The next day at 6 0, clock we got up, Coach Ma looking much more grizzly and haggard than myself. I vaguely remember him coming back to the hotel room much later last night. We quietly ate breakfast at the hotel buffet in our fragile state. Solemnly munching on bean buns and giving the walls the thousand yard stare.
There were many hung over wrestlers and officials grimly going about breakfast, One very ill looking man avoiding my gaze who the night before was trying to explain a joke to me about Japanese women.
After breakfast we went to the next half of the competition which was when the really heavy wrestlers came out to play. They were not as interesting to watch as the lighter wrestlers mainly because they got tired quicker and they did less throws. More than once two titanic wrestlers would prop themselves up against each other, breathing heavily as their coaches screamed at them to do something.
Coach Ma also had another 4 fights which I could slowly see was wearing him down. After the 4th one I could see he was almost spent. He won them all but in the semi-final bout he got a neck injury from one of the Mongolians wrestlers and when he almost immediately after that went to the finals he was beaten by a wiry Mongolian wrestler. He just looked so tired. Afterward when he took his top off he had scratches ever were, a black eye, a bruised neck and a sprained wrist, not to mention his battered legs.
That afternoon we went to an old Chinese city, very well kept amazing buildings and gateways and a horrible prison and torture museum with black and white photos of real people being tortured by different things. Images that I don’t think I will forget. I was also interviewed by a TV station from that city, asking what I thought of the old city, within 30 seconds I was surrounded by a crowd of people all staring at me. I went bright red did my best to answer the questions and then promptly left. Crowds form very quickly in china, if one person’s standing still looking at something very soon there will be more. Funnily enough just before I was ambushed I was watching a street performance of an old man pushing a spear into his neck and holding a bowl full of water on his stomach, I was in the process of telling coach Ma that I also could do the bowl trick when that familiar HELLO! Rang in my ears. Unfortunately I think I stool the old man’s crowd.
That evening they had the goat wrestling tradition; it’s the Shuai jiao style specifically from Shanxi. One wrestler must beat 6 men in a row. If you get put on the floor once you are out. It can be any size, weight, male or female and unlike the competition before you don’t wear the thick waistcoat. The competitors either wore a t shirt or went bear chested. This was a lot more fun to watch, it was not so serious and the stadium was fuller than at the competition in the morning. It was mainly the Shanxi Wrestlers vs the Mongolians. Whenever someone was thrown to the ground the team that lost all stood up in excitement throw off there t shirts and fighting there team mates to be the next on the mat.
The Shanxi wrestlers won both the goats in the end. It was very interesting to see a big person throwing a small person as well. It looked effortless, as the smaller person sailed through the air. One tall and very obese man stepped out of the stadium seats and waddled onto the mat. The audience cheered encouragingly. One of the Mongolian wrestlers about half his size stepped up and they squared off, the large man from the stadium grabbed the Mongolians arm and kicked at his legs. The poor Mongolian actually left the ground and almost did a complete 360 degree spin before hitting the mat. Next a Mongolian man equalling the size of the man from the stadium stepped up and easily floored him.
The Mongolians sat at one corner of the mat; they couldn’t help but sit on the mat and kept edging closer and closer to the centre. The referee had to come and shout at them to move back. They would for a moment but soon shuffled back. In the end a policeman came up to them and tapped at their feet with a truncheon. This also only worked for a short time.
The Shanxi wrestlers sat on the other side more controlled. The last match was the most interesting. A Mongolian had just beaten one of the Shanxi wrestlers and the Shanxi couches were talking amongst themselves. It went on for a while as people ran about going out of the stadium and coming back again. Soon one of the entrance doors opened and through it came a ginormous man. I don’t know how tall he was exactly but he made all the wrestlers who were over 6 feet tall look very small. The crowd began to chatter excitedly and the giant walked over to the Shanxi wrestler’s corner. From what the people next to me were saying I gathered that he was one of the Olympic Chinese wrestlers.
All the Shanxi wrestlers looked pleased and I saw the Mongolians talking seriously amongst themselves. The giant man took his t shirt off to reveal an impressively muscly body; one of the couches got up and began stroking and slapping his chest and back. Like a proud owner of a race horse.
At this point Coach Ma who was sitting with the other coach’s beckoned me down to him. I felt very self-conscious as I jogged down from the seats and onto the arena floor. He just pointed to the edge of the mat and I sat down quickly ‘’we call him the dinosaur’’ One of the wrestlers said as he pointed to the giant wrestler. I could see why, the giant man did look a little prehistoric.
Finally he warmed up and walked onto the mat. The Mongolian team sent out one of their biggest wrestlers who looked woefully small in comparison. The dinosaur dispatched him quickly by grabbing his face with one giant hand and grabbing his foot with the other and spun him top side under. The next 5 matches were slow. The dinosaur was being careful but he managed to win the last goat. On the subject of goats I didn’t see him actually receive one instead he won a new car. I see now why he was so careful to win the match.
The next day we drove back to Xin Zhou and that was when I noticed I had a cold and my eye was not doing its job properly. Unfortunately my brain was also not doing its job properly because I somehow managed to delete most of the videos and pictures from my camera so there is only a couple from the competition. Hopefully I will be able to get some of me wrestling and stuff like that before I leave Xin Zhou next Monday.