Dixon and Finley Blog from Shenzhen

During their week-long trip to Shenzhen, China for the World University Games, KU track and field’s Mason Finley and Diamond Dixon are writing daily blogs on experiences from their trip. Impressions of the culture, what life is like in China, and how their competions are going this week are just some of what will be included in their daily entries. Stay connected to kuathletics.com for daily blog updates as well as results from their performances.

August 19, 2011

Day 6 – Relaxation and A Little Fun

Diamond Dixon’s Blog

Today was pretty layed back. There wasn’t much to do but I’m trying to take my mind off of competition so I decided to take in a little bit more of Shenzen, China.

081411aac_118_5577773.jpegI started the day waking up very early again to talk to people back at home. After two hours of that I went and ate breakfast and then went right back to sleep. Not long after, I woke up to the smell of something burning. It was my roomates flat iron at the end of my bed. I wasn’t too happy about that but thank goodness there wasn’t a fire. After having to deal with that I headed but down to the market. I’m very happy I went. I got to buy some purses and accessories for my iPad.

The most interesting thing to watch when I go shopping here is how hard they try to bargain down the prices of certain items. Some of them are really good at it! I bargained a little myself just to see how cheap I could get them to go and I think I did pretty good. I got two purses for the price of one. I’m kind of upset I still haven’t found any cool tennis shoes or heels that I like, but there’s still time.

Tomorrow is the big day. I’m running in the prelims of the 4X400-meter relay. I still have no clue what leg I’m going to be running but I will keep you posted. Wish us luck!!!

“The first round of the discus went okay for me today,” Finley explained following the day’s action. “I feel like I threw pretty well. I was trying to not to use too much energy but still make finals and I think I did a good job of that.”

Mason Finley’s Blog

Hey, first round of the discus went oaky for me today. I threw 58.31m (191-4 ft.). I was trying to not to use too much energy but still make finals. I think I did a good job of that.

I went back to the market today by myself. There was little Asian girl crying because she lost her mom, it was really sad. I tried to help her but she didn’t speak english very well. I took a look around and thought to myself, “she is so screwed because there was way too many people walking around.” Finally this guy took my place to help her. I hope they reunite.

I bought my first pair of “Beats by Dr. Dre” head phones. Movin on up in the world. I also got lost in this building that was only women’s underware. It was really awkward because all the locals were laughing at me. I obviously didn’t belong. There were no doors because I found out I was in a basement of the building. I eventually found some stairs and got out of there.

Well that’s all I got for now. Talk to you later, Jayhawks.

August 18, 2011

Day 5 – Finals

Diamond Dixon’s Blog

081411aac_118_5577385.jpegRace day!!! Another long and drawn out day of waiting to run. I had way too long for my race today. I had so much time to sit around and think about my race. Waiting all day to run kinda gets on my nerves because sometimes I tend to overthink what I am supposed to do.

Today I think I handled the wait pretty well. I just kept telling myself that I had to get out and just make them come and get me, since I was in lane seven. With those thoughts in my head as race time rolled around, I feel like I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I think I stayed relaxed and just tried my best to keep moving and making sure nobody else passed me after the three other runners flew by me. They ended up catching me at the top of the curve and I ended up finishing fourth but not bad for such a big meet. I really wish I could have won though, that would have been such an awesome feeling. But hey, you win some and you lose some. I’m proud of myself no matter what and I hope everybody back at home is to.

Diamond! 🙂

August 17, 2011

Day 4 – Advancing

Diamond Dixon’s Blog

Today was a pretty simple day. I woke up at five in the morning to talk to some friends back home. We had some interesting conversations. They all asked how I was liking everything out here and if I was having fun. I like it here a lot, but Kansas has more excitement. I’m pretty much ready to come home (hahaha).

Speaking of excitement, I had a lot of fun in my race today. I was mildly disappointed that I didn’t win my heat but I’m going to suck it up and bring it in the finals. I only got second in my heat just by a small margin so I’m not too worried.

I’m pretty tired from waiting for my race all day and getting focused. I really wish I had some Olive Garden or even Pizza Hut on my plate right about now. The food here is getting way too routine. I guess I should be grateful though. Having any kind of food that is edible is sometimes hard to find here.

Well, I’m getting pretty excited for the finals! Please, please, please wish me luck. I’m in it to win it and I will do whatever it takes to win. 😀

Until tomorrow,


Tuesday, August 16

Day 3 – First Competition

Mason Finley’s Blog

The first round of the shot went really smoothly, I wasn’t very nervous. I threw 18.92 meters on my first throw and that was more than enough to get me into the next round.

During the finals, I was a little nervous, but once I got my first throw off my nerves went away. I threw 19.29 meters on my second throw, and was feeling pretty good about it. The Jamaican thrower hit a huge personal best on his third throw of 19.94 meters. I tried to get him on my third throw and threw close to my personal outdoor best of 19.84 meters but threw 19.72 meters. The Russian thrower, on his third throw, hit 19.80 meters putting me in third. On the last three throws none of us bettered our marks. My other throws were all around 63 feet, but I knew they weren’t as far, so I just scratched them.

The medal stands were awesome. They brought us out and put us on the stands and, to our right, each of our flags were raised. It was a really awesome experience.

Diamond Dixon’s Blog

Another day in China is in the books! I am so grateful to be here. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I am really trying to soak it all in.

081411aac_118_5571188.jpegWaking up today was pretty rough since my alarm was set to go off at 6 a.m. I had to get on the bus and to the track by 7 a.m., so eating breakfast and getting ready was going to take some time. My breakfast was a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s. Yes, I know, that is not a very healthy breakfast but a few people on the team (including Mason) seem to be getting sick from the foods we’ve been eating. I don’t want to take any chances of getting sick, so I pre-race meal from McDonald’s will have to do.

When I arrived at the stadium I got goosebumps because it finally set in. If I keep running well I will continue to travel to such beautiful and different places. As well as getting to represent our lovely country. This has been such a thrill for me.

Warming up for my race went very well. As I did my laps I ran the race in my head, repeating to myself some of the things that I had to do. Walking to the track was quite a trip. We made two stops for almost five minutes but finally, out to the track we went. As I got into my blocks I just remembered to stay relaxed and get out the first 50 meters and then just bring it home. When the gun went off and I took my first few steps the track felt so smooth. It was as if I was floating in the air. Finishing up the race was not hard at all. I felt really good!

I’m satisfied with my qualifying time and I’m ready to set myself up in a good lane for the finals. Tomorrow I’m running in lane three of the second heat. I plan to win my heat doing whatever it will take. My goal is to have the first or second-fastest time going into the final in order to get a good lane. Cheer for me way over there in Kansas! I’ll be sure to click the heels of my red spikes together and say, “There’s no place like first!”

Signing off,

Your Dorothy of Kansas track and field. ;D

Monday, August 15

Day 2 – “The Market”

Diamond Dixon’s Blog

Today was an early day because practice was at 9 a.m. I didn’t have much to do but after a warm up and some block starts I felt pretty good. I think I’m ready for my first round of competition tomorrow.

081411aac_118_5568040.jpegAfter practice I was really excited because the whole team got to go to “The Market” and do some shopping. I wasn’t able to buy anything though because I haven’t exchanged my money yet. We are planning on going back on Friday, so before then I will exchange my American money for some Yen and have a ball when we go back shopping.

Being in the market was quite an experience. The way the stores are set up is so different from the way it is in America. Everything is all squished together and you can get lost pretty easily. After walking around for about 15 minutes, my group and Mason and I all stopped for a break in a courtyard and slowly the natives began asking to take pictures. As we all agreed to take the photos it began to get really crazy. People would come running up, one after the other to come and take pictures with us. After a while, it became a little too much for my teammates and I so we tried to rush out of there and continue shopping. In doing so, the crowd of people still followed us to the next store. It was so funny. It kind of made me a little nervous, but I think I handled it well.

That was pretty much my whole day. I’m worn out now and I run at 9 a.m., so I’m off to get some rest for tomorrow’s race. Wish me luck!!! ROCK CHALK!!!

Mason Finley’s blog

081411aac_118_5568042.jpegToday we went to the inner city to the place called “The Market”. It was pretty fun to watch because the people love to haggle. I ended up buying a sword umbrella and a few things for my family.

The people here really like us. At one point, we tried to sit down for a second but a few people quickly stopped us and wanted pictures. It was fun at first, but then we looked around and there was a mob of people taking pictures and pulling us to their kids and other family members. Finally it got to be a little crazy and we decided to run away, but the mob of people chased us down the street anyway. I’m not that fast but my stride proved to be enough to get away. We finally got on the bus and everything was fine.

Got to go to sleep now, I compete tomorrow in the shot put. Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 14

Day 1 – First Impressions

Mason Finley’s blog

081411aac_118_5567122.jpegSo our flight from Detroit to Hong Kong was 16 hours. I must have watched close to nine movies. My favorite one was Disney’s “Tangled”. Even though the flight was long, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. When we got to our hotel it was around 11:00 pm (Saturday night). The city is really excited about this meet. I saw World University Game banners and designs everywhere, as well as a huge Olympic torch right by the highway has we drove in.

One of the first things I noticed once we arrived was how small the people are here, it’s pretty tough for me to blend in. When we finally got to the hotel they took us to the cafeteria and it had all kinds of weird food. The first thing that caught my eye was this section that had meat on a stick. I like meat on a stick so I quickly made my way over there. Unfortunately, they kicked me out because they said it was the Muslim only line. I was bummed so I ended up eating noodles instead.

The team and the guys I’ve been hanging out with are pretty cool. Right now we are all in the hallway working on our computers because it’s the only place we can get internet. It’s tough because there’s no Facebook, Youtube or Twitter allowed in this country. I’m going to have a tough time dealing with that. Other than that everything is going great so far, can’t wait to compete.

Diamond Dixon’s blog

Arriving at the KCI airport before my trip to Shenzhen was pretty nerve racking. I have never traveled so far away from home before and especially over such a big body of water. Most of my excitement eventually took over my fears and I became pretty comfortable and relaxed on the plane ride. I actually thought the ride was going to be really long and that I would get very impatient during the flight. We had two meals and a snack on the plane, which was pretty good, and we also had complimentary HBO movies, which I liked as well. I ended up only watching three movies because I was pretty much asleep the whole way. I’m a big Disney fan so “Princess and the Frog”, “Finding Nemo” and “Toy Story 3” kept me occupied while I was awake.

081411aac_118_5567121.jpegArriving in China was cool! Seeing the different language on signs and also observing how much they have advertised the World University Games got my blood pumping. Some of the volunteers asked to take pictures with me and Mason and some of our other USA teammates. I felt really good at that moment and realized how much of an honor it is to represent America in such a beautiful country surrounded by people that are so infatuated with Americans.

Driving to the village was quite a scene. Seeing all the beautiful lush and green mountains was breath taking. They had bright assorted lights set up representing the World University Games mascot and all of the sports participating in the event. So far the biggest differences I have noticed about China is that the water that comes from the faucet is not drinkable and that the air doesn’t smell very good.

Surprisingly, after being here for only about 10 hours I’m already getting used to it. Well, accept for some of the random spots that I don’t want to inhale at all.

081411aac_118_5567120.jpegI’m not too shocked about the food here. It is pretty much what I had expected. Some of the food is really good and some just doesn’t taste that great but I’m happy to be trying different foods and respecting the different cuisines that China has to offer.

The first practice with the team was great. Everybody pretty much did their own thing. My teammates are pretty friendly and hilarious. It’s been great getting to know them.