28 Jul 2012

Men’s archery preps for noise, competition today

By Jonathan Batuello  |  BSU at the Games

“Thwip, thwip, thwip” ringed through the SCORE Training facility as Team USA Archery released their arrows late last week. This was followed seconds later by “thud, thud, thud” as they hit the red, blue and yellow circular targets 70 meters away. Only the occasional click of a camera by the three photographers in attendance interrupted this repetition of sound.

As all six archers stood within 10 feet of each other practicing, the luxury of being able to concentrate in near silence was something they won’t have as the men’s team gold-medal round commences today at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

“I remember in Beijing the camera noises when our first arrows (were drawn) stepping into the team round, how many cameras there were and just the thought process and stuff that was interrupted on the first and second shot,” world No. 1 recurve archer Brady Ellison said, describing advice he gave to fellow teammates who were at their first Olympic Games.

The men’s team went into qualifying as one of the favorites to win gold with South Korea. It qualified fourth during a ranking round yesterday. All the archers are trying not to think about what could be.

“We’re just trying not to put expectations out there,” Jacob Wukie said. “Just going to have a good time because you hear too many stories about people expecting the best and having the worst happen. We are going to expect nothing and make the best happen.”

It was a sentiment shared by Ellison, who described the need just to think about it like any other practice, even if there is a larger focus and more sound around them than normal.

“It’s us shooting a bow toward a target at 70 meters,” he said. “It’s all the same. It’s 70 meters, it’s us and our bow shooting, and that’s how you have to think about it and how you have to train …

“Why put all that extra pressure on ourselves? It’s the same thing as when we are back home shooting in our backyard.”

The men’s team begins its attempt to win gold in the quarterfinal round at 10:25 a.m. ET. The semi-finals and finals are scheduled for later this evening.

Jonathan Batuello is a graduate student studying journalism at Ball State University and an adviser and writer for BSU at the Games. Follow Jonathan and the BSU team at@jcbatuello@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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28 Jul 2012

It was a perfect—and perfectly British—night

By Emily Thompson  |  BSU at the Games

Hours before anyone in America would see, Londoners and visitors had the chance to experience the Opening Ceremony Friday night. Thousands of people from around the world gathered in Victoria Park for the largest free viewing in the city.

In a truly British manner, spectators queued in front of the park for at least two hours. As they inched toward the entrance, they passed an array of entertainment: vegan protesters (including a guy in a pig costume), religious zealots, face painters, flag vendors, French fanfare and more.

Two girls came prepared for the wait. While their friends held their place in line, they had a sushi picnic. Every so often when the line moved forward, they picked up their blanket and situated themselves a few feet further to keep up with their friends.

Soon before the ceremony began, several Red Arrows flew over London, leaving red, white and blue smoke in their trail.

Inside the park, several spectators sported flags, patriotic-colored clothes and face paint.

Evan Smith from Dallas took a break from studying at the London School of Economics to view the ceremony on one of the three large screens around the park.

He wore an American flag draped around his shoulders.

“[London’s] definitely getting more crowded, even in the week I’ve been here,” Smith said. “But it’s fun; the atmosphere is so fun.”

On the other side of the park, Londoner Lindsee McCutchon waved a small Union Jack flag.

She cried during the British national anthem.

“I’ve really enjoyed seeing the other cultures that have come to our country,” she said. “I think that’s really cool. You see all the different cultures, and everyone’s harmonious. I like that.”

Then as the Olympic athletes marched across the screen, spectators waited patiently to cheer for their countries’ teams. The loudest roar was the last, when Great Britain finally made its appearance.

Paul McCartney finished the Opening Ceremony with a dynamic performance. As the fireworks exploded above the Olympic Stadium, spectators in Victoria Park could see them both on the screen and in the air.

When the ceremony was over, thousands of people leaving the park sang “Hey Jude” together. It could not have been more perfectly British.

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.

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28 Jul 2012

Not an empty seat at Piccadilly bar as Games begin

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

Nearly two hours before the beginning of the Opening Ceremony, the Sports Cafe near Piccadilly Circus is beginning to fill. Not an empty seat or table is left in the two-story American-style bar.

As bartenders on the ground floor fill pints of Stella Artois and Carling, someone mentions this many people entering the bar this early in the evening is rare. Crowds find any space available to watch the show on one of the bar’s several TVs. Waitresses in body-conscious red and blue dresses stand outside a reserved section of tables directing those without reservations upstairs.

Amongst the growing packs are four American college students visiting London for an eight-week internship program.

Billy Krol, a junior at the University of Illinois, was proud to be representing the U.S. at the start of the Olympic Games in England. He wore shorts resembling the American flag with stars on the right leg and stripes down the left.

“I actually scaled it down a lot,” he said, mentioning that his outfit for July 4th contained more spirit.

Sarah Attaway, a junior at the College of Charleston, joined in on the American pride. She bought a red dress just for the occasion.

Unable to find a place to sit in the quickly filling bar, Attaway and Krol waited while others in the group searched for another place to possibly watch the ceremony.

For Attaway, this was her first time watching an Olympic Opening Ceremony, and she was looking forward to it, she said.

Krol was most interested in discovering what the performance would be.

“They keep it a mystery,” he said, explaining how one of the intern’s coworkers was a dancer in the ceremony but has had to keep tight-lipped about it.

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

 

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28 Jul 2012

No money, no ticket to the ceremony

By Jonathan Batuello  |  BSU at the Games

Not having a ticket into the Opening Ceremony left spectators hopeful to get in either out of luck or a lot of money. The ceremony sold out and a few hours before it began, scalping prices in Olympic Park ranged from $1,400 to $4,500.

Multiple people walked around with signs asking for tickets, and almost all gave the same response: nothing was in their price range.

“There are a lot of people looking for tickets. Good luck,” Mark Massely from Connecticut said.

It was a sentiment shared by Hillery Cecil from Atlanta.

“It has not gone well, not well at all,” she said.

Both said they had been in Olympic Park for a few hours looking for tickets without success. Cecil was about to leave, but Massely said he and his two kids would spend a little big longer before heading out.

“We aren’t disappointed we didn’t find tickets, but with the general atmosphere we are,” Cecil said. ”It’s just lackluster, just not very much here.”

This group was one of the last few to have a chance at scalping a ticket in the mall area outside of Olympic Park. Security began escorting anyone without a ticket away from the venue at 5 p.m. Everyone without a ticket then had to follow Massely’s advice and head to various places in London showing the ceremony on television, most notably Victoria and Hyde parks.

This wasn’t a bad option for Massely, though, who said he would head to Hyde Park and enjoy the atmosphere of being in an Olympic city.

“I don’t think we expected to get in (to Olympic Park), so it would be a luxury to go in,” he said. “If not, we’ll watch it like the other 4 billion people (across the world) on the big tube.”

Jonathan Batuello is a graduate student studying journalism at Ball State University and an adviser and writer for BSU at the Games. Follow Jonathan and the BSU team at @jcbatuello@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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27 Jul 2012

Watching the Ceremony from the Midlands

By Pat Boylan and Michael Nauman  |  BSU at the Games

As the world gathered to watch the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games, all of the attention was understandably on London. A two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest, in Worcester, England, the excitement wasn’t quite like the host city, but it still had Olympic pep in its step.

Bushwacker Pub general manager Mark Humpage said the European soccer tournament just a month ago helped him judge expected attendance.

“We have had about double the attendance today for the Opening Ceremony. I think we will also have large crowds for track and soccer events,” Humpage said.

The crowded pub was focused on the television as the Ceremony played. Even the bartenders stopped to look at the big-screen as they poured customers’ drinks. And as the Queen made her appearance the city came to a halt. Unlike in the U.S., where President Obama may receive mixed reviews, the Queen had nothing but respect and cheers.

“The Opening Ceremony did a good job of representing our culture. They incorporated a great mix of history, music and the present,” Matt Penn of Worcester said.

Penn also believed the local flavor of the Olympic Games sparked his interest.

“Normally I pay very little attention to the Olympics, but I’ll definitely be watching.  I think the Opening Ceremony has done England proud.”

Despite a nearly unanimously positive reception, there was one disappointment expressed by many but summarized best by Penn.

“I can’t believe that we haven’t heard Adele. We’ve seen Mr. Bean, but not Adele.”

Pat Boylan is a senior telecommunications major and Michael Nauman is a junior sport administration major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Michael, Pat and the BSU team at@patboylanbsu@itsmichaelbrah@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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27 Jun 2012

Young swimmer’s in it for the experience—if not a chance at his dream

By Tyler Poslosky  |  BSU at the Games

While most high school kids are spending time with family and friends or simply relaxing over their summer break, Nick Orf is preparing for the biggest opportunity of his life.

The 17-year-old soon-to-be senior at Parkway Central High School in St. Louis, Mo., has been a member of Parkway Swim Club for three years and will be vying for a spot on Team USA at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., June 25-July 2.

Swimming competitively is both taxing and burdensome at times, and Orf has virtually no free time.

“I’ve been doing some pretty rigorous workouts, sometimes eight to nine practices a week,” he said.

But he doesn’t mind, he said—as long as he can keep competing.

Orf, who qualified for the Olympic Trials in August 2011 for the 200-meter butterfly, swam against 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at the Ohio State Grand Prix last March.

With Phelps only a few lanes away from him, Orf said it was a relief to know everyone wasn’t monitoring his every move.

“It was nice to know that everybody else wouldn’t be watching me, that’s for sure,” Orf said. “They were all cheering for Michael Phelps and nobody had any idea who I was. It was pretty cool being able to race in the same pool as him. Just really exhilarating.”

The odds of Orf making it to London are slim, mainly due to his age and lack of experience, but Orf doesn’t mind being an underdog.

“It’s just really cool to be able to go,” he said. “It’ll be especially cool if I make the finals or semi-finals. I don’t expect to go, but it’s pretty awesome to have the chance to be able to [go] and to see all the other swimmers who end up making it. It’s good to watch.

“It’s mostly the experience for me because I’m hoping to make it in four years from now in 2016 when I’m [done] with college and I’ll have a lot more training under my belt. Hopefully, I’ll drop my time to get to that point where I might be able to make the team.”

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

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13 Jun 2012

Team USA Canoe/Kayak releases Olympic roster

By Mat Mikesell  |  BSU at the Games

Five members of Team USA Canoe/Kayak completed the long task of qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Team this past weekend.

Caroline Queen powers through the rapids during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in April. Photo courtesy: Melissa Melvin-Rodriguez

Of those who qualified, slalom kayakers Caroline Queen and Scott Parsons both made the Olympic roster.

Queen qualified after finishing 35th with a second run time of 120.96, beating out teammate Ashley Nee for the roster spot. This will be her first trip to the Olympic Games.

“It’s kind of hard to believe at this point,” Queen said in a news release. “The selection process is so long. This morning I woke up and couldn’t believe it was here. And now that it’s done, I can’t believe that that’s all she wrote. But it is. It’s pretty incredible, and I’m really glad that I’m with my family to share the moment, along with my teammates and coaches and staff and everybody.”

Parsons qualified for his third consecutive Olympic Games when he placed 11th in men’s kayak.

“It’s a relief. Honestly, it’s hard to describe,” Parsons said in a news release. “The process has been physically and mentally exhausting. So at the moment, I’m not sure that the excitement is really going to kick in until a little later when I’m a little more rested and really have time to digest the reality of the situation. But I’m very, very excited. I’m really happy.”

Among the others who qualified to represent the U.S. next month are Eric Hurd, Jeff Larimer and Casey Eichfeld, along with sprint kayakers Carrie Johnson and Tim Hornsby.

Men’s Kayak: Scott Parsons

Women’s Kayak: Caroline Queen

Men’s Sprint Kayak: Tim Hornsby

Women’s Sprint Kayak: Carrie Johnson

Men’s Single Canoes: Casey Eichfeld

Men’s Double Canoes: Eric Hurd and Jeff Larimer

Check out Mat’s previous story on Caroline Queen: Queen aims for USA Kayak crown.

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.

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07 Jun 2012

Local shooter prepares for big shot

By Pat Boylan  |  BSU at the Games

Since as long as Danville, Indiana’s own Sarah Beard can remember, shooting has been a way of life.

Olympic shooter hopeful Sarah Beard. Photo courtesy: TCU Athletics

Her father was an Olympic shooter for the United States, and Beard picked up right where her dad left off.

“My dad has been my coach from the beginning, but he never pushed me to start shooting.” Beard said. “I practically forced him to take me to my first match because he didn’t want me to feel that pressure, and there’s no way I would be where I am without that freedom. But my dad made the connection for me between seeing these amazing athletes on TV and realizing that I could actually become one.”

Beard currently shoots for Texas Christian University, which won the National Championship this past year in large part due to Beard’s efforts in the smallbore and air rifle. Smallbore uses pellets and compressed air while air rifle uses live ammunition and is outdoors, and both require pinpoint accuracy.

“(When indoors), I aim at something the size of the period at the end of this sentence. Outdoors, you aim at something the size of the eraser at the end of a pencil, and other variables such as wind need to be factored in,” Beard said.

Qualifications for this year’s Olympic Games are underway. Beard is having her tryouts June 6 through 8.

“Ever since I was a kid, I remember being obsessed with the Olympics,” Beard said. “Every sport was so complex and unique, and it amazed me that the athletes could reach a level of mind and body control that was so close to perfection.”

Pat Boylan is a junior telecommunications major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Pat and the BSU team at @patboylanbsu@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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24 May 2012

Will Roy Hibbert join Team USA?

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

Roy Hibbert

Team USA hopeful Roy Hibbert | Courtesy Photo

After a slew of injuries, the current Team USA men’s basketball roster includes only one healthy center in Tyson Chandler.

But 7-foot-2 center from the Indiana Pacers, Roy Hibbert, wants to provide the Americans with an assist in the post.

Reports have surfaced that the NBA star wants to play for Team USA, and recent media attention appears to confirm the desire.

In an interview with The Jamaica Gleaner’s Robert Bailey, Jamaica Basketball Association President Ajani Williams said Hibbert has asked to be released from the Jamaican National Team.

Hibbert was born in Queens, N.Y., to a Jamaican father and a Trinidadian mother, and he made his first appearance with the Jamaican national team in 2008.

Hibbert is making the switch “in order to become eligible to play for the United States in this Summer’s Olympic Games.”

But making such a switch won’t be an easy process for the 25-year-old all-star.

In the way of Hibbert joining Team USA are compliance issues between USA Basketball and the world governing body FIBA. Both sides must work things out before Hibbert can join the team at training camp in Las Vegas starting July 6.

“Our simple response was that we can’t just handle this matter from JaBA to the player or from JaBA to the agent, and so on, it has to be from JaBA to the USA Basketball Federation,” Williams said to The Jamaica Gleaner. “The United States Federation would need to write us and state that they want this player, and at that point JaBA can speak directly to the federation and FIBA, based on the player transferring from one national team to another.”

However, the Jamaicans aren’t too fond of the idea of letting the young  star go. Hibbert is undoubtedly the squad’s best player. Losing him to the Americans would be a major blow to Jamaica’s team.

“JaBA just can’t just release him because there was a cost that goes into getting Roy Hibbert. We paid a lot of money for NBA insurance for him,” Williams said. “We also did a lot of things around him, and so there are going to be several considerations before JaBA releases him.”

Hibbert and the Pacers return to action tonight in the NBA Playoffs vs. Miami. Game 6 tip is at 7 p.m. in Indianapolis.

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

 

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17 May 2012

Triathlon: Huerta and Kemper represent U.S.

By Andrew Mishler | BSU at the Games

Team USA Triathlon athlete Hunter Kemper | Courtesy Photo

Nine seconds is all that separated Manuel Huerta from swimming, biking and running as a United States Olympian this summer and an early end to that very dream.

Fortunately for Huerta, those nine seconds came in his favor.

Competing in the ITU World Triathlon in San Diego on May 12, Huerta raced to ninth place with a time of one hour, 49 minutes and 29 seconds. It was only slightly ahead of Kris Gemmell of New Zealand, who finished at 1:49:40.

Huerta cut it as close as he could. Only a top-nine finish would clinch a spot on the U.S. Olympic Triathlon team, which is allotted only two male competitors.

Fellow U.S. competitor Hunter Kemper came in fifth place at 1:49:17, securing himself and Huerta as the two-man team to compete for the U.S. this summer in London.

Following the swimming and biking legs of the race, the top of the field was still bunched within seconds of each other. That left the running event to decide the outcome.

Huerta had prepared exactly for that situation.

“I knew that it would come down to the run,” Huerta said in a release. “The past couple weeks I’ve been focusing on my run, especially my running off the bike. I was pretty much on the last pack on the swim, but I stayed positive; I stayed calm. We caught up and then I set myself in very good position on the bike on the last couple laps, and then I went out with my heart and then gave everything I had.”

Huerta may be headed toward his first Olympic appearance, but this is familiar ground for the 36-year-old Kemper.

With his fifth-place finish, Kemper became only the third athlete to qualify for all four Olympic triathlons, dating back to Sydney in 2000. The two other triathletes joining him are Simon Whitfield (Canada) and Anja Dittmer (Germany).

Kemper proved he was still in prime condition after suffering an elbow injury in the Myrtle Beach ITU Pan American Cup in October 2011. Saturday was his first day of official competition since his injury.

“It’s a tremendous day for me; I didn’t know if I would actually be back here,” Kemper said. “I went through so much … It’s been a struggle.”

The ITU World Triathlon San Diego elite races are the next events in the Olympic Qualification Period, which closes on May 31.

The women’s elite races will take place at 1 p.m. Eastern on Saturday, May 19, while the men will compete the following day at 1 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, May 20. Universal Sports will broadcast both events.

ITU World Triathlon San Diego

Top 10 and U.S. competitors
1. Jonathan Brownlee (GBR), 1:48:46

2. Sven Riederer (SUI), 1:48:52

3. Richard Murray (RSA), 1:49:02

4. Mario Mola (ESP), 1:49:08

5. Hunter Kemper (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:49:17

6. Ryan Sissons (NZL), 1:49:22

7. Tim Don (GBR), 1:49:25

8. Bevan Docherty (NZL), 1:49:29

9. Manuel Huerta (Miami, Fla.), 1:49:31

10. Kris Gemmell (NZL), 1:49:40

15. Gregory Billington (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:49:49

24. Jarrod Shoemaker (Clermont, Fla.), 1:50:11

32. Ethan Brown (Lowell, Mass.), 1:50:27

34. Matt Chrabot (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:50:32

53. Mark Fretta (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 1:53:09

 

Andrew Mishler is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University. Follow Andrew and the BSU team at @andrewmishler@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

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