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|| News Item: Posted 2008-09-04

Olympic Moments: David Eulitt
'I really love the quiet little moments in sports.'

By David Eulitt, Kansas City Star

Photo by David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

Photo by David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

China's Xue Tan, left, and Ukraine's Olga Kharlan, right, both reacted in celebration on the touches both registered with the score 44-44, in a 45-point match.
I was part of McClatchy's team of four photographers in Beijing, including Sacramento's Paul Kitagaki, Jr., Charlotte's Jeff Siner and Miami's Joe Rimkus, all of which I met for the first time in China. Outstanding photographers, and even better people, along with Erich Schlegel and Tom Fox from Dallas in our office.

This was my second Olympics and I had a better idea of what I was up against...mainly hunger, sleep deprivation, and camping on photo spots. This time, I brought a little tiny bit of wisdom and a case of Clif bars.

I considered myself extraordinarily fortunate, not only to be covering my favorite sporting event in the world, but getting a great variety of sports to photograph from our MCT editors, Harry Walker and George Bridges, from the big events like swimming and track to less popular (and less crowded), sports like fencing, badminton, table tennis and archery, none of which I see in Kansas City.

In Athens, I was the outside-the-stadium guy for opening ceremonies, so I was pumped that I was inside in Beijing for simply the most jaw-dropping spectacle I've ever witnessed. I was in the front row of the upper deck with Eric Seals and Nhat Meyer, losing weight from the hair-dryer hot exhaust fans of the concert lighting. I had new Nikon cameras (thanks, NPS!) but an older 400 2.8 non-VR lens (d'oh!...shoulda asked for one!) and a 1.7 tele-converter for a 650mm lens for this shot of a flying acrobat over the glowing Olympic rings at 1/60th. I was very lucky that this frame was tack-sharp. I got to shoot lots of cool patterns of dancers from up top and a wide remote camera of the whole stadium.

I got to photograph Michael Phelps win three of his eight gold medals, and while at the time I was more concentrating on shooting, on the plane ride home, I thought about witnessing the greatest performance in Olympic history. Pretty cool stuff. My favorite picture of Phelps was in one of the prelims where Phelps was exiting the pool, gliding over the lane dividers. I really love the quiet little moments in sports (after I shoot the huge joyous ones, of course) and I thought he looked like a water predator, ready to pick off his unfortunate opponents.

One of the most memorable medal matches I shot was in team sabre fencing. A team of three fencers competes to be the first to win 45 points. First to 45, pretty simple. China vs. Ukraine. China, with a huge home fan base, was leading the entire match, seemingly to another gold medal. Ukraine began to battle back, all the way to 44-44. None of this "winning by two" business. One touch wins the gold. Both fencers lunge, both lights go off, both leap in the air, thinking the gold was theirs. Simultaneous touches. Instant replay. Over two minutes of judges looking at slow-mo. Fencers pacing. I've gotta tell you, that was a long two minutes looking through my camera, waiting for the call. The call goes to Ukraine....the Chinese fencer is devastated, breaks down sobbing after the house lights go up. It wasn't on TV, but that was great drama. That's what I love about the Olympics.

Photo by David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

Photo by David Eulitt / Kansas City Star

United States men's basketball players LeBron James, left, Deron Williams, second from left, Dwayne Wade, second from right and Carlos Boozer, right, celebrate the USA victory in the gold medal game.
I was expecting good photos out of the men's basketball finals, but I wasn't expecting the pure glee from the jaded NBA stars. I don't get to see the NBA in KC, but I know it's a lot of yawns until the last 5 minutes of the 4th quarter. The USA men's team got all they could handle with a Spanish team that put in some amazing shots.

The USA was up by only 4 with two minutes to go and I thought...oh man, we could have an upset here, big time. So I'm looking for any kind of "choke" photo on the bench, between whistles, anything. Kobe drains a three and it's good night for Spain. These guys were jumping up and down like school kids. It really was a lot of fun to watch, although the photo scrum afterwards was pretty intense. Streeter Lecka from Getty next to me said it was the most thrilling basketball game he'd seen (although I'd vote for KU draining a three with 3 seconds in the championship game against Memphis to go to OT).

I got one morning off and luckily, it was a gorgeous day in Beijing, so Jeff Siner and I grabbed an early taxi up to the Great Wall. A lovely Saturday morning and, apparently, tens of thousands of Chinese had the same idea as well, but it really was pretty cool. We were in wonder of the scale of the wall. I said to Jeff, if the Chinese had invented razor wire....think of the times avings! Jeff and I shot some fun photos there, including a woman with a great hat that I got in close on.

I'm not sure with the future of newspapers that I'll get another Olympic trip again, but this one was magnificent, the best three weeks of my career, without a doubt.

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