ANADIA, Portugal - Stanford graduated senior Eddie Penev will compete for the U.S. Gymnastics team at a World Cup event in Anadia, Portugal. In his first blog post of the trip, Penev discusses his long day of travel overseas and his first day of training:
As I embark on the next phase of my gymnastics career I wanted to make sure that I stayed in touch with the Stanford community. Stanford has given me so much these past four years and I want to make sure I could keep all my friends, family, supporters and teachers up to speed because I could never have gotten here without their support and wisdom.
The competition I am going to for this trip is a World Cup event in Anadia, Portugal. World Cup competitions are generally individualistic meets in which countries from all over the world are invited to send a few of their top athletes to compete on their strongest events (floor, pommels, rings, vault, parallel bars and high bar) against some of the best gymnasts in the world.
Brett McClure (assistant coach at Stanford) and I got up very early Tuesday morning to catch a 7:30am flight out of SFO. From San Francisco we flew nearly five and a half hours to Charlotte, North Carolina before we headed out across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe.
Our second flight was even longer than the first. We flew from Charlotte to Frankfurt, Germany overnight. The flight took around seven and a half hours and we arrived in Frankfurt early Wednesday morning with a nine-hour time change from back home.
In Frankfurt we met up with the rest of the U.S. delegation that is competing in Portugal. This included 2012 Olympian Sam Mikulak and fellow national team member Brandon Wynn. It was very exciting to meet up with everyone as this is going to be my first time representing the United States in an international competition.
We left Frankfurt as a team around 9 a.m. and took one last flight to Porto, Portugal – a city just north of Anadia. Needless to say, after more than 15 hours of flying we were all pretty exhausted and ready to get some much needed rest.
Unfortunately, the meet is scheduled to begin on Friday so we had to go straight from the airport to the competition gym in Anadia for a bit of light training to get a feel for the new equipment, which is a bit different than what we are used to back home.
We spent a few hours at the arena doing a light workout and trying to get the timing right on some of our skills. Leaving practice, everyone was even more tired but felt good to have gotten a bit of training under our belts. We knew the next day’s training would be much smoother after a good night’s rest.
From the arena we took a 15-minute bus ride to our hotel, which we had not seen yet. The hotel was absolutely beautiful! It was built in a very traditional Portuguese villa style and although it looked older on the outside it had been renovated on the inside and the rooms are pretty spacious and nicely done.
The thing I like the most about the hotel is that it is situated in the countryside and is fully enveloped by trees and vegetation. There is certainly a reclusive atmosphere about the place and it also functions as a spa resort that radiates a tranquil environment.
The guys and I were really anxious to explore the place so we dropped our bags in our rooms and proceeded to explore the hotel grounds and take plenty of pictures. After that, we had dinner at the hotel, which was our first real Portuguese meal. It consisted of pork, potatoes, fish and veggies. All in all it was delicious and very well prepared.
After dinner we were feeling pretty beat up from the long day so we relaxed in the Jacuzzi and sauna at the hotel. It was the perfect way to cap off a very long and exhausting day and when we went back up to our rooms we were more than ready to pass out for the night.