Jason Hedstrand More Than Gold Diary

The Opening Ceremonies were really cool. I've never experienced anything quite like it. It was so great to be able to come in, representing the U.S., surrounded by so many famous athletes.

The American athletes got to meet President Bush before the ceremonies started. That was something I'll always remember. I even told him he looked good in his Olympic jacket.

Believe it or not, my favorite part of the Opening Ceremonies was the puppets. I loved the Moose and the Buffalo and the Deer. And, when the Olympic Flame was lit, the two athletes carrying the Olympic Torch ran up the stairs right next to me.

I think that's when the realization settled in – when the Olympic Flame leaped into the air – that I had actually made the U.S. Olympic Team. I felt a sense of honor and responsibility – honor that I was representing my country, and responsibility to do it well.

It was a wonderful experience – but not overwhelming. In fact, in some ways the whole experience is humbling, and I came to recognize again that there is nothing extraordinary about me – I'm just a guy. And there's nothing extraordinary about the famous athletes, and really nothing extraordinary about President Bush either. It's not who you are – it's what you do with your talent and who you are in terms of character that makes a difference.




The Opening Ceremonies are drawing near, and I'm glad. I'm excited about the ceremonies, it's energizing. And I feel a sense of relief. I've spent so much time training for this, and I've been so busy with speeches, and appearances. There's so much that goes into the preparation for an Olympic event, and I'm ready to just focus on what I need to do.

There is a good deal of stress that I'm feeling, and there are days when I feel pulled to the limit. I'm trying hard to remain humble within all this – humble and focused on the things that really matter – like God, my family, my coach, my teammates. I love to come home after these jam-packed days and just read my Bible, think about other things, pray and mentally relax.

I have a great network of friends at the church I attend, and they help me a lot. It's great to be able to be with people and just watch something like the Super Bowl, relax, and laugh. The more stress-filled the days became as my event draws closer, the more I realize what a blessing my network of friends is.

In spite of the stress, I really am having a ball. This is so much fun. It's fun just to walk through the village and see the people. I checked out the place I'll be staying for the last three days of my Olympics and it's really cool.

I'm learning to just be patient, wait, and focus on all the good things here.