World Cup #2 Lessons Learned The Hard Way

About a month after the first world cup we were already on a plane heading to Cairo, Egypt for the second World Cup! I was very excited to go to a new country and compete again. We arrived late in the afternoon and even though the airport wasn’t very far from the hotel it took a long time to get there because of the traffic.

I had been warned about the driving in Egypt and how crazy it was, and it definitely was a little insane. Cars were driving down the middle of the lanes and people were crossing through traffic between cars. There were very few traffic lights and people just driving all over the place. It was interesting to see and a little scary, but all of the drivers we had were very good and I felt fairly safe in the car.

The hotel was nice and had a good view of the city. The food was very good as well and there was so much dessert. It was hard to resist and all looked so delicious. The next day we were able to go out to the police academy where we would be competing. We ran and swam a little bit at the venue and once again it was pretty warm, but at least not as hot as Mexico.

It was interesting seeing the city on the way to the venue and back. There was a lot of construction going on and lots of abandoned buildings. There wasn’t much color either, lots of tan and brown which I guess is expected for being in the desert.  The traffic and driving was crazy everywhere and seemed to take forever getting to and from the police academy.

I would be in group B for semifinals and would be swimming first. It also meant we started a bit later too which was nice since I was still pretty tired and jet lagged. Sleeping through the night was difficult with the time change. My swimming was pretty good only a second slower than the first world cup, but still leaving me in a good position. The fencing went great and I was doing very well moving a lot and getting some good touches on my opponents.

The fence seemed very long, but at least there was a nice breeze in the outdoor gym we were in so that helped a lot. After the two events I was in 18th place. Since there were only two semifinal groups I would have to be top 16 to make the finals. The running course was very sandy and uneven which was difficult on my legs after the fencing. In my first lap I had only made up one place, but after shooting nine seconds in my third round I moved up and was able to hold my position with a good run to finish in 10th place.

I had made finals again! I was having quite a bit of pain in my foot and back so knew I had to start on the recovery to be ready for finals. The next day we went to the venue to cheer on Brendan, our teammate, in the men’s event. He unfortunately did not make finals, but had a great fence which he was very happy with as well as the experience he gained.

I was starting to sleep better at night which was good as I was finally adjusting to the time. At the start of warm up for the fencing in finals I was still having quite a bit of soreness, but nothing too bad. I did well in warm up but once the competition started my mind was just not there.

During training at home I feel that I am used to pushing through pain and soreness, but in finals it seemed as if my body wasn’t listening to my brain and my reactions were slow. I also was not moving as well and my score really suffered. It was a tough way to start the day. The swimming was the same as semifinals, but didn’t move me up at all in the placing.

I was excited for the riding; the horse I drew was a beautiful, big chestnut gelding. In the warm up I could tell that he was a powerful horse, he moved great and responded to my aids and leg well. We were the first rider to go for the riding event and we rode clear with only a second time penalty. He was such an amazing horse to ride and tons of fun! I moved up a few places for the start of the combined which was good. At this point I was doing my best to just gain from the experience and really try to do the best I could given a tough start in fencing.

I shot well, but once again my body just didn’t feel well and I was struggling in the run and couldn’t push harder. I held my ground and was able to finish in 32nd place. Although I was not fully satisfied with my competition it was a good way to see what I need work in and try to be more consistent in my fencing.

The next day a few of my teammates and I were able to go on a tour bus to visit some sites in Egypt. Our first stop was the Cairo Museum. There was so much history and artifacts in the museum; it was hard to see everything. I was amazed with all of the art and interesting things the Egyptians developed over the years. The next place we went was a small little art gallery. They showed us how they made the papyrus paper from the plants.

Next stop was the pyramids and the sphinx! It was definitely a culture shock. There were camels and small horses all around offering rides to tourists and the locals. The pyramids were huge and it was such a neat experience to see so many of them. The Sphinx was amazing as well. We walked through a tunnel to get there and it was amazing to see the way they built things. I am amazed that the pyramids and building made so many years ago are still standing to this day and we are able to see a huge part of history! We also got to go to a perfume shop and see how they make the glass bottles for the scents and perfumes. It was a lot in one day to see but very happy that I got to see so much while I was in Egypt. Couldn’t go there and not see the pyramids!

The night we got back from touring I was feeling a little sick and starting to get really bad stomach pains. I just thought it was from the long day and we had some different food for lunch, but I was the only one who felt sick. The next day the pain was only worse and I was feeling very sick and dehydrated. Isabella and Brendan would be competing in the Mixed Relay since they did not qualify for finals.

We went to the venue to support and cheer them on. I tried to swim a little bit and see if it would help me feel better, but the day felt like it was so long. About 5 years ago I had appendicitis and the pain I was having in Egypt was almost worse. I just thought it would pass and tried to lie down to feel better. I couldn’t hardly drink or eat anything and was starting to get very worried since the team would be traveling home the next day. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to fly if this continued so I saw one of the other team’s doctors. He was able to give me some antibiotics to help get me home thankfully.

Looking back I realized that I drank a few glasses of the tap water the first night I had arrived in Egypt which explained why I got so sick. It definitely was a lesson learned and I will forever be much more careful with drinking water. Despite getting very sick I had a good competition and was happy with my results as well as have some things that I can improve on. It can be difficult to go out during the competition to see things so I was also very glad to be able to spend a day being a tourist!