Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Keeping In Touch From England

TigerBlog hopes you enjoyed last week's five-piece series, answering the questions he was asked about some of the emotions he's felt with Princeton Athletics through the decades.

He did something with those five entries that he hasn't done in the 11 years that he's been writing this every day. He wrote all five of them in advance, which meant he didn't have to write at all last week.

Then he asked Jim Barlow to write a guest blog yesterday, and as always Jim's piece was tremendous and got great feedback. 

Why did he do this?

He's been away for the last week, in England and France to be specific. Actually he's still there, in England, along the southern coast.

It's been a long time since he's had such a vacation. In fact, the last five times prior to this that he has left the United States, it's been with a Princeton team.

Before this trip, he'd been to 16 different European countries, though never to England or France, unless you count a one-hour stopover in the Paris airport in 1974. He's seen a lot in the last week, starting in London, where he went to see, of all things, "Fiddler on the Roof" on the West End.

He's spent he last few days in the southern coast, near the towns of Poole and Bournemouth. He's seen some spectacular beaches on the English Channel, with views to the Isle of Wight to the East. He's stumbled on a seafood festival. He's seen Buckingham and Windsor Castles.

He's also ridden a bicycle that he's rented.

What people in the United States immediately think of when they think of England is that they drive on the other side - the wrong side? - of the road here, with a steering wheel on the other side - wrong side? - of the car. The impact of this goes way beyond mild curiosity.

If you're used to driving on the right side, then you're also used to looking certain ways when you get to intersections. Over here, everything is reversed.

It's even more pronounced when you're on a bike, as TB has learned. He's constantly found himself unsure of which way to look when he gets to intersections, of which there aren't that many, since the English seem to love roundabouts, which can also be confusing.

He's done well though, other than a minor incident with a double-decker bus, which was sort of his fault anyway.

England is a very charming, very welcoming country. The people here have been beyond friendly and very laid back, even in London. They joke about most things, and they speak in very flowery language that enhances the charm.

Even while he's been away, he's still kept in touch with what's been going on at Princeton. The biggest news has been the great success that Princeton has had at the Pan Am Games, which recently concluded in Brazil.

If you went to goprincetontigers.com yesterday, you noticed that four of the top six stories were about Pan Am medalists, and that doesn't include the gold that Kareen Maddox won in 3x3 basketball last week.

Bella Alarie helped the USA women's basketball team to a silver medal, falling 79-73 to Brazil in the final after being unbeaten to that point. Alarie, the rising senior, averaged 6.6 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals in the tournament.

Princeton had two alums win field hockey medals: Elise Wong helped Canada to the silver, while Kathleen Sharkey helped the USA to the bronze. Argentina won the gold to automatically qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games, but the U.S. and Canada will still be able to compete in Olympic qualifying later in the year.

Sharkey, by the way, was the flag bearer for the U.S. team in the opening ceremonies, you might recall.

Then there were the gold medalists.

Ashleigh Johnson was the U.S. goalie in women's water polo, and not surprisingly, the U.S. cruised through the tournament unbeaten while outscoring its six opponents 142-24. The U.S. simply dominates women's water polo internationally, and Johnson's resume now includes an Olympic gold medal, a Pan Am Games gold medal, numerous world championships and numerous world player of the year awards.

In women's fencing, four Princetonians combined to win six gold medals, including two each for alums Kat Holmes (epee) and Eliza Stone (saber). The two then were part of team gold medals in their events, and those teams included current Princeton fencers Kasia Nixon (epee) and Chloe Fox-Gitomer (saber).

Todd Harrity also won gold, in doubles squash, which made its Pan Am Games debut.

So what is that, nine gold medals? And two more silver and one bronze?

That's not a bad two weeks in Peru.

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