Gold was not in the cards for two members of the AU athletic department who represented the United States at the Olympic Games in China, but for Brad Vering and Steve Jennings, the experience was one they won’t soon forget.
Vering, an assistant coach for the AU wrestling team, arrived in Beijing a serious contender for the Greco-Roman wrestling 185-pound division gold. After soundly defeating Artur Wichalkiewicz of Poland in his first match, Vering dropped an 8-2 decision to Armenia’s Denis Forov. That loss proved costly, ultimately eliminating Vering from the medal round.
“Well the tournament did not end up the way I had hoped it would . . . ,” he wrote in a blog, bradvering2008.blogspot.com, he published during the games. “I am definitely feeling a little better now. I only get that sick feeling in my stomach about 5 times a day when I think about the match with the Armenian. . . And I am a better wrestler now than I was last year when I was 2nd in the world. I guess realizing that is the hardest right now. But that is sport . . .”
Jennings served in China as an assistant coach of the U.S. women’s field hockey team. AU’s head field hockey coach helped direct an American squad that gave its all, but came up short. The team officially was eliminated from medal contention on Aug. 19 following its 0-0 tie with the United Kingdom.
He too kept a blog: aueagles.cstv.com/sports/w-fieldh/bloggingfrombejing.html.
“To be a resident in this permanently ephemeral nation of nations is a thrill of a lifetime and to have the chance to compete . . . is an honor beyond words,” he wrote.