Closing Ceremony draws excitement, end to the Games in Victoria Park

By Emily Thompson  |  BSU at the Games

Thousands wait for the live screening to start in Victoria Park, London. Photo by Valerie Carnevale.

It would be unlike London to go out without a bang.

Although all of this year’s Olympic athletes had put their skills to the test by Sunday night, Victoria Park tried to recreate the energy of the Opening Ceremony. The park had the largest free screening of the Closing Ceremony in the city.

There seemed to be fewer spectators this time around – the lines leading up to the entrance didn’t snake around the entire park as for the Opening Ceremony. Instead, people picnicked outside before gathering their items to go through security.

Londoners Louise Roon and Kenneth Lamont finished their snacks on a blanket in the grass before heading into the park. They had hoped to come to Victoria Park for the Opening Ceremony, but their plans fell through.

“We hadn’t made it down [to the park], and I wanted to see it before [the Games were] over,” said Roon, who had attended Olympic sailing, hockey and triathlon events.

Inside the park, the night’s event could’ve been mistaken for those of a festival. In addition to the three large screens, the park featured a Ferris wheel, zip-line, food stands, bars and dance troupes. Even after the ceremony started, the “woos” from the people flying above the crowd on the zip-line continued through the night.

Olympic volunteer Ollie Bolderson waited in a long line for fish and chips. He had just finished his last shift working at the water polo arena in Olympic Park and was still wearing his purple and red volunteer shirt and official lanyard.

At 16, he’s the youngest age permitted to be a volunteer. He considers himself a “massive fan” of water polo.

“The whole atmosphere of the park is just amazing,” he said. “It’s such a great buzzing atmosphere. And [the other volunteers and I] get to see loads and loads of water polo, which we love. So I’ve really enjoyed it.”

In addition to seeing a lot of water polo, he said he also appreciated the various cultures the Games have brought to London.

“I like seeing all the orange of Holland and loads of Canadian fans and those Australians, crazy Australians, and Americans as well,” he said. “London’s pretty diverse anyway; it’s not like a huge difference. But it’s nice to see. This is the best of London you’ll see, ever. Everyone’s here, everyone’s happy. It’s great.”

In front of screen one, Londoner Charlene McKenna sat on a blanket in the grass with her sister, who was visiting from Ireland. McKenna was on vacation in Spain for the first eight days of the Olympic Games.

“I work very near the Olympic site, so it was on my mind that it was going to be quite hard to get around,” she said. “So I sort of planned it around that time, but I didn’t plan it around that time solely to get away from the Olympics. Because I quite missed being here for it when I was watching on TV. I’ve come to this today to sort of feel the atmosphere I’ve watched on TV.”

Although she only experienced London during the second half of the Games, she said she can tell it’s had a positive effect on the city as a whole.

“Everyone’s really happy in London, and because we’ve had such bad weather this summer, it’s been really good,” she said. “I think everyone’s really enjoying where we are in London now in comparison to this time last year when the riots were on. There’s a really good sense of community from British people. It doesn’t matter if you’re Welsh, or you’re Scottish, or you’re English. I think there’s a good sense of coming together for the Olympics.”

After several musical performances on the union flag stage, montages of athletes crying and plenty of cheers from the crowd, the night ended with perfect symmetry to the Opening Ceremony: fireworks lit up the shared sky over both Olympic Stadium and Victoria Park.

View our full photo gallery from Victoria Park here. 

Emily Thompson is a senior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team at @ekthompson2410@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

The unsung hero of women’s soccer

By Tyler Poslosky  |  BSU at the Games

Becky Sauerbrunn, an alternate defender for the U.S. women’s soccer team, was about to enter the most important game of her life.

With 10 minutes remaining in the gold medal match between the U.S. and Japan, defender Rachel Buehler went down with an injury.

In came Sauerbrunn.

With Japan darting into the offensive zone, Sauerbrunn positioned herself between two Japanese forwards with the hopes of forcing a shot. She managed to block off a passing lane from her opponents, dictating a premature shot that goalkeeper and captain Hope Solo managed to save.

“Becky came up huge for us,” forward Alex Morgan said.

It was Sauerbrunn’s play that helped seal the gold medal for the U.S.

Suddenly, all 80,203 fans stood up and cheered for both Solo and Sauerbrunn.

“We have so much confidence in [Becky],” Morgan said. “Every practice, I hate going up against Becky because she just anticipates your every move. She’s so organized defensively and has such great awareness that she’s just a defender that you don’t want to go up against.”

The play was drawn up during the U.S.’s pre-Olympic camp, and was one Solo knew would work, especially with Sauerbrunn in the middle.

“I remember that day at practice,” Solo said. “I was doing some shooting with [coach] Paul [Rogers] and all the front-runners and he was on the side-field far away. I just remember him screaming my name to come down. He was working with the defenders.

“I kind of rolled my eyes. I’m like, ‘what do you need Tony? I’m working on this stuff over here with the forwards.’ I ran down there and he wanted to run through it. We ran through it and it was crazy.”

Solo praised Sauerbrunn for her efforts on that final play, which could have resulted in a game-tying goal for Japan.

“Becky’s like, ‘Hope, I just really wanted to force the shot,’” Solo said. “For her to think to not only do the physical work, but to think and process it in a short amount of time, it just shows the sophistication in her play.”

Minutes later, the game was over, leaving Sauerbrunn celebrating on the podium with a gold medal dangling from her neck along with the rest of her teammates.

It’s not always about the players who score the winning goal or receive the loudest cheer from the crowd. Sometimes it’s about the player who rises to the top in a game’s most crucial time.

“Becky is one of those unsung heroes I’m talking about,” forward Abby Wambach said. “A player that on most other national teams would probably be their starting center-back. Sometimes it’s the Rudy that really does make a team a champion.”

Tyler Poslosky is a senior journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tylerposlosky@bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Quadruple sculls rowers come just shy of Olympic dream

By Tyler Poslosky  |  BSU at the Games

U.S. quadruple sculls rowers Elliot Hovey, Peter Graves, Alex Osborne and Wes Plermarini sprinted out of the blocks with the rest of the boats during the repechage heat.

They were right there alongside New Zealand, Italy and Switzerland when disaster struck 350 meters into the first leg of the race.

Permarini, a four-year veteran rower and 2008 Olympian, was positioned at the front when the blade of his oar suddenly became lodged in the water, bringing the boat to dead stop.

“We had a great start; we were right with the field, right where we wanted to be, and then I got a massive boat-stopping crab,” Permarini said in a press release.

Not an animal crab. Permarini was talking about a stroke that simply gets caught under the water.

The delay put the U.S. a length and a half behind the rest of the field. Without hesitating, the four rowers restarted the race and charged after the teams in front of them.

Their adrenaline pushed them back into contention, sprinting with every last bit of energy they had at a rate of more than 40 strokes per minute.

Suddenly, the gap began to narrow.

The four men rowed the second fastest 500-meter sprint on the second quarter and the fastest split in the third quarter to pull within an inch of the Swiss with the finish line on the horizon.

They continued to dig their oars harder and deeper into the water. Faster and faster they went. Their arms were throbbing, but they had to press on.

Despite giving it everything they had, their last-second efforts weren’t enough to overpower the rest of the field.

For Piermarini, Osborne, Graves and Hovey, their Olympic dream came to a halt. They finished fourth with a time of 5:45.62 behind Switzerland, who crossed the line at 5:44.90. New Zealand won the race in 5:43.82, followed by Italy in 5:44.57.

For what seemed like hours, three of the men sat in their boat stunned, while Hovey’s face was buried in his hands.

Years of training for this one race, and not the outcome the group had hoped for.

“Right there, we had the opportunity to role over and die and we said absolutely not, not today,” Hovey said in a press release. “You guys are not getting off easy, and we’re going to come and get it. And that’s exactly what we did.

“We did a start again, and it came naturally. Everyone was on the same page. We were catching it. We could taste it. It got a little ragged at the end, but we went for it and we just fell short.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the crew and the performance that was done by the guys around me and I would not have chosen to row with another group of guys, and I mean that sincerely.”

The agony of falling short of their goal didn’t strike Osborne until minutes after the race ended.

“It kind of hit me,” Osborne said in a press release. “The regatta is over for us and it’s a terrible feeling. You cross the line and aside from the pain in my legs and forearms, I was overcome with just a pit in my stomach that we were done racing. It’s really tough because we worked so hard for each other. We wanted to keep going, but I’m proud of the way we competed in the end.”

Tyler Poslosky is a senior journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tylerposlosky@bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Men’s marathon brings Olympic Games to a close

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

It was a bright sunny day with not a cloud in the sky and a slight breeze at 11 a.m. It was perfect weather for a run, and people were lining up along the men’s marathon track to watch the last free event of the Olympic Games. Many of the people traveled this last day because they knew this was it.

“We came over to see the last few events of the Olympics cause we didn’t get tickets for a stadium event,” Paul Tester said.

Tester, an Irishman, was not the only one to travel to the last few events. There were people from all around the world cheering on their Olympians in the marathon who hoping to grab one of the last medals before the Olympic Games are over.

Paul Jobber, a local, also came out to catch the last event. He wanted to make the most of the Olympic Games he said. Another London local, James Leppard, made sure to watch the men’s marathon for another reason.

“It’s the last event and also I am a marathon runner myself. It’s great to see them run past historic sites,” Leppard said.

Leppard was not the only runner from London making his way to the marathon; Jim Broughton was another marathon runner watching from behind the gates. He said it was a really good view, with or without a ticket.

Those who did have tickets to see other events even made their way down the watch the men’s marathon. Brian Stilies was one of them, even after seeing the men’s semi-final basketball games and a gold medal soccer match.

“I like the actual city of London,” Stilies said. “So, we were going to walk around. Our original plan was to just go to the marathon because we didn’t have tickets. Then we got tickets, and we thought to walk around and throw another event on.”

With the marathon being one of the last events, some spectators started arriving hours before. But because the course was so large, some people showed up just 30 minutes before the race started and were able to have a great area to watch the runners go by. Leppard said he was only half an hour late and was still able to watch the runners from his spot

The marathon ended with Stephen Kapchorwa from Ugonda getting gold, followed by two Kenyan runners getting silver and bronze, Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang Kiprotich. Kapchorwa edge out Kirui by less than half a second for the gold. The United States marathon runner, Keflezighi Mebrahtom, placed fourth, missing the bronze medal by less than two seconds.

With the marathon ending so, too, did the Olympic Games.

“I think it’s been great. People have been friendly. There are always volunteers helping. We have been to two events and haven’t had a problem,” Stilies said.

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Caroline Queen hopes to apply experiences from London to Rio

By Mat Mikesell  |  BSU at the Games

Whether it was walking with Team USA during the Opening Ceremony or playing Sudoku on the treadmills in the workout room, kayaker Caroline Queen will leave London with memories she will never forget.

Though the Darnestown, Md., native placed 17th in the women’s K1, two spots shy of qualifying for the semifinals, she is taking her experiences from London to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

“This whole experience has been incredible,” Queen said. “The result wasn’t what I’m capable of.”

Her parents, David and Sharon, as well as her cousin and a number of family friends, joined her in London. Even after watching her compete in athletics throughout her youth, they were still the typical nervous mom and dad during her run to the Olympic Games.

“Watching major competitions is extraordinarily nerve-wracking for parents,” Sharon Queen said. “[Her father and I] hope that Caroline will compete well and fulfill her expectations, but we cannot control what happens.”

Once her daughter finally qualified for the Olympic Games, she was relieved the grueling process spanning more than nine months and three countries was over.

The kayaker came to London having little expectations of what the Olympic Village and the Games would be like but came away with a positive experience. She loved being able to train whenever she wanted, for as long as she wanted. She was also a fan of having fresh seafood and grilled vegetables available to her in the cafeteria.

But since she was eliminated from her competition Monday, she’s had more time for herself and to enjoy London with her family.

“I’ve been to the gym a couple times and did some running,” Queen said. “I went with my family earlier this week and saw ‘Spamalot.’”

Ranked 38th in the world by the International Canoe Federation, the 20-year-old Queen has a chance to improve considerably as one of the younger competitors when she attempts to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Despite her potential, though, Queen always been an advocate for helping younger younger than her train for the Olympic Games. Now that she’s finally competed in one, she has more advice for them when she returns to the United States.

“It’s an honor and it’s something I’ll always take with me,” Queen said. “It’s something you want to chase for sure. It’s an experience any athlete wants.”

This weekend she heads home to the United States, where she will return to Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., for the fall semester. But in between her studies, she will continue to train.

Her parents said Caroline learned the lesson of grace in London from not getting the result she hoped for while competing. Her mother said she showed great character on the course as well as in her conduct afterward.

If she doesn’t medal in Rio de Janeiro, her mother said she still expects her daughter to compete at her highest level.

“We expect her to enjoy the experience and do her best,” Sharon Queen said. “That is all we ever expect. Life is about living your experiences rather than racking up results.”

Mat Mikesell is a senior journalism major at Ball State University covering badminton, canoeing and sailing for BSU at the Games. Follow Mat and the BSU team at @MatMikesell@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Program gives Team GB’s future athletes a peek behind the curtain of Olympic Games

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

Being an athlete in the Olympic Games is more than just competing; it’s dealing with the publicity, the fame, the pressure and the distractions the Olympic atmosphere can bring.

To help ease future hopeful Olympians into the world of the Games, Great Britain has set up the British Olympic Ambition Program. It is giving 130 young British athletes and 57 coaches a chance to see what it’s like to be a part of the worldwide sporting event.

Phil Wood, coach for the Ambition Program, acts as mentor and support for the team and believes this program gives Britain an edge over other countries.

“Seventy percent of Olympians are better at their second Olympics, so hopefully these guys bring home medals their first time competing,” he said.

Yena Stadnik, female wrestler on the GB Ambition program, said she thinks the program has shown her what she can expect both mentally and physically.

“The workshops help me get a taste of everything,” Stadnik said. “I am treated like I am one of the athletes.”

Each athlete is selected by his or her specific sport’s National Governing Body. During the program, the members first go to a Preparation Camp at Loughborough University, where they get fitted for Team GB sports gear.

Eighteen-year-old indoor volleyball athlete Rupert Scott said he had to wear his gear for the two-and-a-half-day period he was in London for the program.

“I’m not even an Olympic athlete yet, and people still wanted to take pictures with me,” he said. “People were really interested.”

During the Olympic hopefuls’ stay in London, they got the chance to watch two Olympic competitions in person.

Sarah Winckless, 2004 bronze medalist in rowing and program director, said she organized each participant to be matched up to their sport (or one similar if they’re winter athletes) and another sport they didn’t know anything about.

“As an athlete, you often get wrapped up in your own sport, so instead of them living in their own sport it’s important to see how wide the Olympics are,” she said.

The participants also get to meet previous Olympians for some athlete-to-athlete learning because they speak the same language, Winckless said. She wished she had had the program before she competed because it shows that it’s OK to have bad days as an athlete.

“There’s a myth people think that the athletes on the podium have it easy, but they don’t. It’s hard work,” she said. “Medals aren’t won in a game, they’re won throughout the years.”

Winckless herself learned that lesson when she competed in her first Olympic Games after she had been injured. She knew she wasn’t in form to win any medals but just being apart of it inspired her to carry on and keep working hard. She wants to let new athletes know that it is determination that keeps you going, since most sports careers are short.

“I put on a brave face with the media and everyone,” she said. ”But I was living the dream, even if I wasn’t in form. It’s OK if you don’t win a medal right away, Everything you train for doesn’t change.”

Yena Stadnik said hearing stories like this have shown her not to give up, that there is a reason to carry on.

Preparation is something freestyle wrestler Craig McKenna learned about that he thought was most important.

“Preparation is key, even though the Olympic atmosphere is great,” McKenna said, “even if it means being anti-social for a while.”

Even if they don’t all make it to the Olympic Games, Rupert Scott said this experience has prepared him for any type of big game that he will be involved with in his life.

“There’s so much more than just competing. There are so many distractions that really test your limits,” he said. “This has really helped me. It shows me how much pressure competing in big games are.”

Katelynn Thys is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Katelynn and the BSU team at @skyismylimit_kt@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Harper wins silver in women’s 100-meter hurdles

By Tyler Poslosky  |  BSU at the Games

Battling against the rain, Dawn Harper needed one last push, a final stride to propel her across the finish line.

As Harper dug down for that last bit of energy, the defending 2008 gold medalist came up just short, settling for silver in the women’s 100m hurdles final inside Olympic Stadium Tuesday night.

In a close finish, Australia’s Sally Pearson edged out Harper by two-hundredths of a second to win gold.

As the hurdlers took their mark and awaited the sound of the gun, a steady rain began to fall.

“When the rain started, it was so dramatic,” Harper said to USA Daily, admitting it made her imagine the theme music of a horror show.

Her heart was thumping with adrenaline.

When Australia’s Sally Pearson appeared to be running away from the field, Harper closed the gap, creating a nerve-racking photo finish that saw Harper cross the finish line slightly after her opponent.

It was such a close call that both Harper and Pearson stood for about a minute, anxiously waiting for the final decision.

“When I leaned at the [finish] line, I looked over and that’s when I finally saw her,” Harper told Yahoo!Sports. “And I was like, ‘Did I sneak? Did I just sneak and get past her?’ I look up, and I actually realized I didn’t win when I saw her fall to the ground. I was like, ‘Dang it, she’s happy. She just won.’”

Pearson had an extensive lead heading into the final two hurdles, with Harper and the rest of the field closely behind.

Entering the final 20 meters of the race, Harper caught the edge of a hurdle. She quickly recovered and broke away from the pack inching closer to Pearson. For a brief second, it looked as if Harper broke the finish line before Pearson.

But the photo finish proved otherwise.

“I knew I needed a good start—but didn’t quite get that,” Harper told Yahoo!Sports. “I just kept telling myself, ‘You have to go to work.’ I couldn’t really feel anybody. I knew [teammate] Kellie [Wells] was right there, and I was like, ‘I’ve got to get in front of Kellie.’

“Then I clipped a hurdle and was thinking, ‘Either you’re winning by a lot because you can’t see anybody, or Sally is so far ahead you just don’t know where you’re at.’ I just remembered thinking, ‘You need to just lean.’ And when I leaned is when I finally saw her.”

Pearson won by running an Olympic record of 12.35 seconds, upgrading her 2008 Olympic silver to 2012 gold.

The U.S. went 2-3-4, led by Harper with a personal best of 12.37 seconds. The silver medal is Harper’s second-career Olympic medal.

Tyler Poslosky is a senior journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @tylerposlosky@bsuatthegames andwww.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Wrestler Jake Herbert prepares to win gold

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

Wrestler Jake Herbert watches his weight and what he eats like most athletes in his field. He does find some unique things to enjoy the most. He loves to drink juices and said “Naked” was his favorite. Most notably, he doesn’t go straight to the water fountain after working out to rehydrate. Instead, Herbert drinks coconut water because it rehydrates you better.

All this caution and weight watching helped Herbert claim a 149-4 record at Northwestern University, and of his four losses, three were as a freshman and the fourth was in the national championship his sophomore year. It’s a record he hopes to improve on this year at the Olympic Games when the 84kg weight class begins wrestling Saturday.

“I’m 27-years-young, and I’m getting bigger, stronger, and quicker everyday. I feel like I am starting to hit my stride,” Herbert said.

Herbert doesn’t just focus on his food intake when preparing for the wrestling mat either. He lifts three times a week and wrestles seven. Two days he plays handball, which he said can get violent with all the wrestlers trying to play.

When it comes to finding a weak spot in an opponents defense, Herbert said at this level most people don’t have one, but he has a strong spot — his offense.

“I attack, attack, attack until I score or till they break down. They can defend one attack, but they can’t defend 14 or 15. They don’t have the endurance or the mental stamina to do that,” Herbert said.

Herbert looks to stay aggressive in his matches hoping to push hard enough to make his opponents tired or force them into a mistake. He said he has a relentless attack that is hard for people to stop, and while his style hasn’t made him the favorite to win gold, that doesn’t bother him. He has been training hard and wants the gold, which requires toppling Sharif Sharifov from Azerbaijan.

And Herbert doesn’t plan to come home with anything less than the top spot on the podium. If that happens, Herbert may just be able to enjoy one of his food splurges, burgers and donuts.

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Keeping it in the family: Son wrestles in father’s footsteps

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

Growing up, Sam Hazewinkel hardly knew what it was like to lose. In high school, he was a perfect 140-0 with coaching help from his Olympian father, Dave Hazewinkel. At the University of Oklahoma, his winning ways continued with a 132-10 record.

Still, one thing was missing from his resume—a national title.

Hazewinkel had attempted to join Team USA’s World, National and Olympic teams but never made it. He achieved many seconds and thirds during this winning drought, including 10 third-place finishes and 15 second-places finishes from 2004 to 2011, but never a first.

Then came the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. In the finals against Nick Simmons, he lost the first match and the first two rounds of the second match, seeming to have fallen short of his Olympic dreams yet again. Before he accepted defeat, though, he challenged a call made by the referee. What originally was called a 3-0 win for Simmons became a 1-0 win for Hazewinkel.

The trials came down to a third and deciding match that went into overtime. Hazewinkel came out ahead. He had made the Olympic team.

“In its own way it was a relief to finally get it,” he said, “but it’s also real exciting.”

Sam Hazewinkel’s father, Dave Hazewinkel, was also an Olympic athlete for Team USA, wrestling Greco-Roman along with his twin brother, Jim. Dave and Jim competed in the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City and the 1972 Games in Munich. Sam also started out wrestling Greco-Roman but made the switch to freestyle after placing second at the 2008 Olympic Trials.

This is the first time there has been a father and son compete in the Olympic Games for Team USA Wrestling, and Sam Hazewinkel could not be more excited.

“It’s hard to put into words. It’s exciting. I’m getting to make history now, and what is cool is that it’s not necessarily my fault. My dad started it, and I’m just filling in,” Sam said. “It’s been my dream since I was a little kid, obviously, with my dad being an Olympian. I’m loving every minute of it and at the same time trying not to get to caught up in stuff going on.”

Neither Dave nor Jim Hazewinkel medaled either time they went to the Games, so Sam wants to be the one finally to bring home the gold for his family and Team USA. Still, he is trying not to feel burdened by the added expectations.

“There is pressure, but you soon learn to let it roll off. There is so much going on that if you worry about it, it’ll run you over,” said Sam, who is trying to keep what head coach Zeke Jones calls “laser focus.”

“Keep my focus and my mind right. Keep that laser focus and go crush some fools,” Sam said.

Sam’s roommate, Tervel Dlagnev, thinks USA Freestyle will do great things within the next three days.

“Everyone is in focus mode,” Dlagnev said. “USA Freestyle is going to make some noise.”

And Sam wants to do his part, to prove he learned something from all those seconds and thirds he has had over the years.

He’s settling for nothing less than gold.

“I didn’t come here to lose, that’s for sure,” Sam said. “I do know what that feeling is like, and I don’t want to feel it again. I’m going to win.”

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Preview of wrestler Justin Lester

By Charlie Akers  |  BSU at the Games

Justin Lester has had success on the international level, but not for a few years. He has not won a medal in any competition since he got back-to-back bronzes in 2006 and 2007 at the World Championships.

At the Olympic Games, Lester has a strategy for the 66kg Greco-Roman weight class to try and get back on the podium. He is looking to push the pace of the matches so he can catch his opponents off guard and take advantage of any mistakes this may cause them to make.

“Once you get to the highest level of wrestling everyone is good, it’s the person that makes that one mistake and you capitalize on it. That’s what I try to do. That’s my usual game plan,” Lester said.

After winning the 2011 USA Greco-Roman wrestler of the year, Lester is not letting it go to his head. He appreciates that it shows all the work he did last year, but he has to put it in the past, he said

When preparing to take on his opponents, Lester is not taking it easy with his pre-match warm-up.

“About half an hour of cardio and drilling and then I always do two competition matches. I usually try to get that in 45 minutes before my matches,” Lester said.

After the hard workout, he said he needs to calm his mind and listens to soul music. He said he prefers John Legend and Robin Thick because if he listens to anything else it gets his mind racing too much.

Lester does not have an easy road ahead of him to the gold. Iranian Saeid Mourad Adbevali, 22, is someone that Lester has to defeat. Since 2009 the Iranian has won the 2009 Junior Nationals, 2010 Asian Games and last two World Championships in the 66kg weight class with taking.

Lester said he is prepared for anything that could happen and is proud to be representing Team USA at the Olympic Games.

Lester is competing on Tuesday. Qualifying starts at 1 p.m. with the bronze medal match at 12:45 p.m. ET, and the gold medal match an hour later.

Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.