(BEIJING, August 3) -- In the Olympic Village, you don't need to visit every single apartment to find where the Swiss delegation lives. Once you come upon the apartment with pictures of Federer plastered on the windows, you know that you have come to the Swiss apartments.
We spoke with Swiss delegation head, Werner Augsburger, about his team and the Olympics after he had gone to the fitness room. He used to be a professional volleyball player, and still manages to exercise every day, although he has already retired for several years.
When speaking of the Olympic village, Werner Augsburger was similar to the other coaches in raving: "The Olympic village isn't very big; the apartments are classical and beautiful; everything has been organized very well. This is the most beautiful Olympic village I have ever seen. Everything is very convenient and accessible. Our athletes have been going to the same cafeteria ever since they arrived; I don't know if it's because they're too lazy or because the food there is just that good!"
When asked about the weather in Beijing, Werner Augsburger says, "Beijing weather changes so much in the course of one day. After the rain, the air is very cool and clear. But after a few hours, that uncomfortable humidity is back again. It's something that our athletes have to get accustomed to." When asked about Olympic village service, Werner Augsburger contends that, "Everybody here is very eager to help. No matter what kind of question you have, they will always give you a complete answer or help you get to somebody who can. They're very warm and welcoming."
The Swiss t-shirt design is a very unique one. The images on the t-shirt are the same as the two posters hanging from the Swiss apartments. Augsburger explains: "The pictures on our uniforms are that of a flower and a dragon. The flower is a lily, because to the Swiss, the lily is a beautiful flower that came to us from the Chinese. The five petals of the flowers all have a hidden meaning: one represents the Swiss flag, the other shows an eye to represent how people view the scores and results of athletes, the third is of a dragon to pay tribute to the host (China), the fourth of a sun to signify ability and strength, and the final/fifth is of the Alps.
The other picture is of a dragon with the cross of the Swiss flag. It pays homage to the host and also brings luck to the athletes during the Games. At the start of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the Swiss Olympic team hired a Swiss artist to design their uniforms. Since then, he has worked on uniforms for the Swiss Olympic team in the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.
According to Augsburger, the first sport the Swiss Olympic team played, like many other European nations, was soccer. The Swiss have always been recognized for their record-breaking stunts at the Winter Olympics, but performance at the Summer Olympics has always been weak in comparison. This year, Switzerland has sent 82 athletes to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Out of the 82, 34 are female.
Augsburger reveals: "At the Olympics, we don't set our goal at how many gold medals, but how many total medals. We don't care what color the medal is; if we get five, we'll be very happy. A month ago, we were Europe's host. Now we are Beijing's guest. We weren't able to give our own countrymen an exciting match. I just hope that we'll make that up in Beijing."
Augsburger continues to say that events that could potentially win medals for Switzerland are tennis, archery, triathlon, marathon, men's 800 meters, and track cycling. Ironically,the only athlete to be featured on a poster in the Swiss apartments, Federer, will not be living in the Olympic village. Augsburger explains: "The star of the Swiss team is, no doubt, Federer because he has given us so much pride and joy in the tennis world. He is sure to draw a lot of attention."
Augsburger further explains, "It's not because Federer doesn't like living in the Olympic village. It's because he has his own habits and prefers to live by himself." It looks like this is the case for many star athletes, who in an effort to avoid harassment from the press and fans, are staying away from busy areas. "But Federer will definitely find some day to come visit everybody at the Olympic Village and walk around," Augsburger added.
The day of the Opening Ceremony (August 8) is also, coincidentally, the day of Federer's 27th birthday. Will Federer celebrate with his delegation after the Opening Ceremony, where he is the Swiss flag bearer? It has been a tradition in Olympic history that whenever it's an athlete's birthday, a simple birthday party will always be thrown and a special present given to the birthday man/woman. Will Federer enter the Olympic Village then? When asked, Augsburger only smiled but said nothing.