21 February, 2017

Summary post of my Far East Wrestling adventure

I'm back at my desk in Tokyo. I tried to blog while I was away, but it was really difficult. Not technically difficult (I had WiFi access most of the time), but people-difficult. To write, I need not just time, but people-free time. The trip was people-intensive.

I wish I'd written earlier, because now I've stored up way too much to write for one blog post. So, I think I'll try to write a short summary now and also post a longer, more detailed post for those who want more details. I suspect there will be a third post in the next day or two that is more reflective.

My travelling companions at the airport in Korea.
We travelled. Roughly two hours for each segment of the trip: two hours (three trains) to the airport, two getting through the airport, two in the air, two in Incheon airport, and two on a bus and then walking to our hotel. We left at 8.15am and got to our hotel at 7. I slept badly the night before, so did all this on about 4 ½ hrs sleep.

The start of the Far East wrestling tournament. "Far East" is a US military term. This is a regional competition for their base schools, though historically our school and a couple of others have been invited to also participate. 15 schools from Japan and Korea competed this year.
Dinner on Thursday night. Yum!

Our son had only two wrestles this day, one fairly easy, the second more difficult but not heart wrenching. What was difficult to watch were others who didn't wrestle as well as they could have, or were simply outmatched. Of our nine wresters, three were knocked out of the individual competition this day.

We went to dinner with the team each night of the competition. It was a fabulous part of the trip, two of the team were Korean, so organised the restaurants. Really fun hanging out with the team and coach socially too! These guys can eat!

Each night my fellow wrestling-mum roommate and I talked via FaceTime with her husband and our three boys that had remained in Tokyo. They seemed to weather the week okay.

This was the hardest day of wrestling for me. Late morning our son had his semifinal. He levelled the score in the last 10 seconds to tie  6-6. But he won the match, because the other guy had "fled" the mat during the bout (with our son hanging on to one of his legs), which is against the rules. 

This match left me shaking.
This is the bout that left me in need of oxygen.

The guy who lost to him is the same one who he's wrestled more than a dozen times in the last two years. Most times they've been hard fought matches, though he's only bested our son twice and that was last year, he's pushed our son hard.

That match left me a mess until the final four hours later. In the meantime we had lunch (or I tried to eat lunch) and the loser of the semi had to wrestle one more time to decide who would face our son in the final.

The final was somewhat of a let-down. It was the same guy he'd wrestled in the semi, but the wind seemed to have been taken out of his sails. Our son won 10-0.

I didn't cry. But I did feel a profound sense of relief. It was like a dream.

The second part of the tournament began, it was a team competition (though there was a team element to the individual competition too). This was team vs team. Our school seeded first, so got a bye in the first round and didn't have to wrestle on Friday afternoon.
Osan is the name of the US airforce base. South of Seoul. This building
is where we spent our days. US bases aren't very pretty, though. All their
buildings are pretty drab.
The area outside the base was also very drab plus dirty.

The dual meet continued and our team met, and easily defeated two teams on our way to the final. The final, however, was a different story. The team we met was not as good as ours, but had a full line-up (wrestlers in all 13 weight categories) compared to our team, which was four wresters short of a full complement due to illness, injury, and a lack of team members (almost no students at CAJ are as heavy as 215lb [97.5kg] or heavier, so our teams often lack the top two weight categories).

It was a hard fought dual where they only beat us twice in bouts where we had wrestlers to face up to them, but we tied in points at the end. The tie-breaker was the fact that we had had to forfeit four matches and they walked away with the title. There are many what-ifs here and many of the guys were beating themselves up. It really is something to see a team of tough wrestlers in tears.

The awards were many, and it was great to see all our wrestlers with at least two medals around their necks. The team won first place in the individual tournament in our smaller schools division and got silver for the dual meet. We had two Far East Champions (our son was one), one third and three fourths too.

Thankfully we were also able to go out as a group again later and have some fun. But it was very cold to wander the streets, we didn't stay out all that long.

The cup of coffee that saved me on Sunday afternoon.
With everything over barring the travel, we got to theoretically sleep-in this morning. I still woke at 6, though that was better than many of the days beforehand. A former CAJ mum picked us up and took us to lunch an hour away with another former CAJ mum, both Korean. So we were treated to some more delightful, but hot, Korean food. 

But I was so tired. If I was prone to falling asleep vertically I could easily have done so during lunch. Not only had my sleep been messed up with all the emotion, my digestion too. I've not been able to eat much during the last week and I simply could hardly make an impression on this large dish that we were given. It was embarrassing, but there was nothing I could do about it.

We flew out close to 6pm, and didn't get home until after 11pm. Everyone was in bed/asleep when I got home. Thankfully David and the team had arrived a couple of hours earlier and he was able to get our younger two boys home and into bed.

If you'd like to know more of the details, check out this post.

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