Posts tagged "2012 Summer Olympics"

“Wrestling” my way into a Team USA event

On Tuesday, Aug. 7, I had the most fun I have had since arriving in London. I was lucky enough to attend the Team USA men’s freestyle wrestling practice and media day.

I used to wrestle—starting in the fourth or fifth grade and continued through my senior year of high school. Needless to say, I loved every minute of the practice and media day.

While I was there, I got to interview and talk with many of wrestlers. Going in, I was most excited to talk with Sam Hazenwinkel, and I did just that. I talked to him for most of the media day. He was such a cool guy and had great stories to tell.

After talking with him for a while, we parted ways and I changed my focus to his roommate Tervel Dlagnev, the heavyweight. He was a fun guy to talk to as well. He had a great sense of humor, all the while keeping his seriousness at the forefront.

I traveled around the room for about 30 to 45 minutes, talking to as many wrestlers as I could before they started practicing. They began with a warm-up and then grabbed their wrestling partners and got to work.

Watching their practice made me miss wrestling and want to start back up again. In all reality, I probably won’t, but it was a nice thought at the time. I didn’t think I would miss wrestling that much after high school, but I do now. Getting back on the mat would be fun.

What may have not sounded fun to others was something I loved. I wish I could go back to more of their practices and media days. They were really cool guys and the atmosphere was awesome. It was easily the best day I have had during this trip.

Charlie Akers  |  Sports Reporter

@The8thKing

I’ve seen a lot of places, but London trumps them all

This is not my first time being out of the country. In fact, this is about the fifth country I have been to in the past year and a half.

But London is the best so far, and all due to the Olympic atmosphere.

I thought my three months living on the beach in Australia was the best vacation I would ever have, but the best part is that I am only 21, leaving so much time to see more. I’ve dived the Great Barrier Reef, island-hopped on jet skis in Fiji, driven across the countryside in New Zealand and spear fished in the Bahamas, but so far, London is my favorite.

This is actually my second time being in London. The first time, I came on a whim in the middle of my third semester at Ball State. I traveled here with my two best friends and it was a blast, but much of that time was spent pub-crawling and not actually seeing the sites and taking in the culture.

Seeing that the Olympic Games are being held here, I can’t think of a better time to come back. I’ve seen so much that I missed the first time I was here, such as Buckingham Palace and Tower Bridge.

Another thing that I have found entertaining was randomly finding the very first pub I went to when I was here before with my friends. I was walking down the street and started to recognize the area. Then three minutes later, I ran straight into the George. I immediately took a picture and shared it with my friends back at home.

I have traveled many places, but I have never been back to them. There is something different about London, though. It’s a city that, in the end, I can’t seem to get away from.

Michael Kerkhoff  |  Sports Reporter

From my Grandmother’s backyard … To yours

We seem to think we always have to be on the go—our mindset programmed to fast forward. Living a life set on fast forward may be good for some, but when I remember to take a minute and press the pause button, I am overwhelmed by an indescribable feeling.

Working on stories, my body had been cemented to the kitchen chair for what felt like only five minutes, but in reality was tiptoeing on six hours. The emptiness in my stomach turned into a nauseating feeling taking over my concentration. When I finally succumbed to the growling noises in my stomach at 10 p.m., my flatmate and I went out in search of dinner.

Our decision was easily made for us as we approached the last restaurant on the strip of South Bank, “Giraffe”. The faultless scenery and perfect weather added to our very European dinner of nachos and bruschetta.

It was while we were waiting on our check I had unknowingly pressed my own pause button.  A serene feeling came over my body, and it was then when I finally allowed myself to be in the moment.

Our waiter seemed to enjoy chatting with us and didn’t hesitate to point out that we weren’t from Europe. He began to talk about his childhood of growing up in Peru and the memories he had as a child. For a minute, I thought that I was in the backyard of his grandmother’s house, too.

“Every morning, I would wake up and go sit outside on a swing my grandmother had in her backyard. The sunrises in Peru are unforgettable,” our waiter said. The picture he began to paint felt as if it was just yesterday morning he had been there.

“Sitting on the swing, the sun resting on my face every morning, I will never forget it. I miss it,” he said.

Not only was I living in a “pause” moment, our waiter was too. This moment is a universal place everyone around the world visits—the place we go in our heads that makes us feel at home.

The options of what to do in London at night are endless, and that’s why my flatmate and I decided to do nothing at all after dinner.  As we walked home, our conversations subsided and the serendipitous evening we had just had became one of the best moments I have had in London.

Charlotte Dunlap | Features Reporter

@charr_mariee

I got more exercise than expected while watching the women’s triathlon

For a second while I was watching the Olympic women’s triathlon, I thought I was in a race myself.

As my group of BSU at the Games members stood around Serpentine Lake, surrounded by thousands of people watching the triathletes furiously swim in front of us, some fans around us began to turn around. They started pushing through the massive crowd of people until they reached a clearing, and then it was a full-on sprint to the other side of Hyde Park.

Jonathan Batuello, one of our group members, was among those hurrying away from the lake even though the swimming portion wasn’t over. I hurried after him, but he ran so fast from the crowd I lost track of him.

At that point, it didn’t take long to figure out what everyone was running toward.

As the triathletes pulled themselves out of the water and onto their bikes, fans were racing over to the cycling track to get the best possible view of the next portion of the race.

It was funny to see how the rows of people next to the street worked itself out. Those who ran fast enough and knew they had to leave the swimming portion early earned the ultimate prize of getting great photos. Those of us who didn’t had to deal with photos that had heads and cameras in the way of the shot.

Our group learned from the first run through the park and made it over to the running track after the cycling was halfway finished. No running was necessary this time, and after a half hour of waiting, we were able to get a decent view of the triathletes sprinting by us.

For the first Olympic sport I’ve ever seen in-person, the women’s triathlon is memorable just for getting me out of a seat. That’s not something I’m used to as a football and basketball fan.

Still, the next time I sit down to comfortably watch a sport with a hot dog in one hand and a drink in the other, I know I won’t take it for granted.

Andrew Mishler  |  Sports Reporter

@andrewmishler

Chasm between sports cultures

Sports culture differs vastly depending on the sport, team or region, but watching abroad seems like a paradigm shift. Fanaticism in America amounts to Red Sox and Yankees fans hating each other, painting faces, decorating rooms for college football game days and tailgating in parking lots. The media and venues drive much of the fanaticism in the United States, with ESPN constantly reporting on the Miami Heat and stadiums’ P.A. systems encouraging the crowds to collectively chant specific phrases.

I’ve noticed things are radically different in England. Attending the USA women’s soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester drastically changed my outlook on British sports. The venue offered nostalgia for old stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway. Temporary video boards light up the corners of the stadium for spectators to watch the game unfold. As soon as the match started I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

The only P.A. announcements after the national anthems were for the four substitutions in the match. Not a single promotion. Not a single pump-up chant. No music. No organist. No fun.

The communal atmosphere of collective cheers and chants disappeared, in their place sporadic and short USA chants. The British arena didn’t accommodate the American crowd.

When English Premier League’s Manchester United plays, Old Trafford is a different atmosphere, with constant chants and songs from the crowd. Football requires some form of audience entertainment during slow periods of play. The American crowd hadn’t been together years and years to learn team songs or chants. As a member of the crowd, I wanted an organist, similar to baseball games, to play “Charge,” “Defense” or even “Olé Olé” to build a better atmosphere in the crowd.

A silent baseball game best describes the atmosphere. Every fan remained seated except when a team attacked the net. Most of the crowd noise consisted of murmurs from conversation.

Maybe if the venue allowed alcohol into the stands the atmosphere would have changed the feeling. Alcohol is only permitted on the concourse. There are no beer-men or carts around the stadium. What fan wants to go drink hidden from the action during a match? This caused a mass exodus during halftime of the crowd disappearing into the bowels of the stadium for a drink or two.

The game was fun, don’t get me wrong, but the chasm between crowd and players widened more than I have ever witnessed as a sports fan. Without audience participation, the match wasn’t worth the extorted prices LOCOG and the IOC charge. I love England’s culture and atmosphere, but the presentation of sport is deeply disappointing for a nation so rich in sports heritage. Or I should be sure to come back when United plays.

Alex Kartman  |  Adviser

@ajkartman

What happens when reverie becomes reality?

Here’s the deal—I wouldn’t consider myself a world traveler. My mind does drift abroad on a regular basis, but that doesn’t require luggage and travel arrangements.

What I’m getting at is that reverie, my friends, can be a wonderful instigator of travel. It always wins. So, I did what any avid daydreamer would do and signed up for my first trip to Budapest, Hungary.

I’d be lying if I said I had any idea where Budapest was when I signed up. It wasn’t until after the initial meeting I finally decided to Google the place. Call it impulse or whatever you want, but it really didn’t matter where I was going, what mattered was that I was going. It was the thrill of a new adventure—and that feeling took over.

A few months later, I packed my things, boarded a plane and jetsetted across the Atlantic with five strangers. Aside from a few roadblocks (namely, food poisoning and ringworm) the trip was phenomenal and fueled my inner traveler more than daydreaming ever could.

A lot changed for me during the trip. I suddenly felt undereducated. You can only learn so much without experiencing something first hand. All of the sudden I was consumed by the depths of a culture outside my own. I was thrown into a part of the world so different than mine. It was scary, yet inspiring. It was my ignorance of foreign land that ignited something in me: I should always yearn for international perspective, if for nothing else than personal enlightenment.

That’s why when Ryan Sparrow first talked to me about joining the group going to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, I couldn’t say no. (I would be CRAZY to say no!) It didn’t take much to convince me. Actually, 10 minutes after he brought it up, I called my parents. Their response: “You’d be crazy not to go.” I think you know how the rest of the chapter goes.

So now I sit here, awaiting the next chapter of my journey. We have a few more weeks to go until we leave for London, and I can hardly contain my excitement. Not only does this trip mean I get to visit Europe again, it means I get to attend a gathering of the world’s finest athletes. It’s surreal.

My expectations, you ask?

The truth is, I don’t have any plans or expectations. Plans will find me and my expectations will be met.

I am excited to travel with a group of talented and extraordinary students. I am excited to immerse myself in yet another European culture. But most importantly, I am excited to see the world come together for no other reason than a soccer game, a triathlon or badminton match.

The way I see it, there is really only one question to ask: Are we there yet?

Jena Levy | Public Relations

@jenalevy