Posts tagged "Gold Medal"

Scoring gold medal tickets

Soccer, a popular sport around the world, generally doesn’t peak my interest.

But it was the Olympic Games. It’s Team USA and Canada with each team vying for a spot in the gold medal match.

The conclusion to this particular match, one of the few matches I’ve watched from start to finish, was unreal. Every time Canada scored, the U.S. came right back to even the contest. The same was true when the U.S. scored. Canada wouldn’t go away.

But it was the U.S. who triumphed 4-3 in extra time, forcing a re-match of last summer’s World Cup final with Japan for the gold medal in London.

The thought of buying tickets never crossed my mind. Everything is so expensive here.

As I departed Worcester for London, I pondered the possibility of getting tickets. Once I arrived at our London flat, I took out my laptop and began browsing the ads on Craigslist.

I came across one particular post, which read: “Four Tickets to Women’s Football Gold Medal Match; CAT A; First Row; Section 144.”

After pulling up the seating chart for Wembley Stadium, I realized these seats were right at midfield.

I replied to the listing and texted the number provided on the ad, “Are those football tix still available for gold medal match?”

Shortly thereafter, my phone lit up with a response, “So far, yes, but many people are calling.”

The asking price was 250 pounds per ticket. The first words out of my mouth were, “Holy cow. That’s outrageous.”

I got a call from, Remi Padoin, the scalper who posted the ad on Craigslist. I told him I was from the United States and wanted to see my country play in the gold medal match. I told him I’d get back to him shortly as I needed to round up three colleagues to go with me.

After asking around for nearly an hour, I was in luck. Alix Sappington, Jena Levy and Sara Schaefer agreed to go with me.

I rushed to my phone, punched in Padoin’s number and told him we’d buy them.

Having no idea who this man was, my stomach started churning. Scalping is illegal and I wanted to make sure we didn’t get caught.

Padoin told me to meet him at the Tottenham Court Road tube station at 7 p.m., roughly an hour from the time I spoke to him.

I hung up the phone and began recruiting volunteers to go with me to pick up the tickets. After another extensive search, Alix and Jena joined me, and we were off to the Farringdon tube station.

Upon arriving at the Tottenham station, I received another text from Padoin, “Hoping on the tube now. There in 15ish. Look for ridiculously long flag pole with Norway flag.”

As Alix, Jena and I made our way toward the exit and walked up the stairs, there was no sign of a long flagpole with a Norway flag.

We decided to go into Burger King for a final count of our money. It was all there.

We came out of Burger King and I couldn’t believe my eyes. A giant Norway flag was swaying through the air right across the street. Padoin was holding the flagpole, draped in a Norway flag while wearing a Norwegian Viking helmet with horns shooting out of both sides.

After being so nervous about making this transaction, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was an entertaining site to see.

The three of us approached Padoin. He greeted us with a smile, shook our hands and showed us the tickets.

He even asked me if I’d like to wear his Viking helmet. I couldn’t resist. All three of us posed for a picture with our newest friend.

Minutes later, I was holding four Olympic women’s football gold medal match tickets in my hand.

It was the strangest of occurrences, but it turned out to be one of the finest moments of this trip to the Olympic Games.

Tyler Poslosky  |   Sports Reporter

Relatives of gold-medal cyclist Kristin Armstrong share their experiences at the sidelines

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

As the last notes of the U.S. national anthem echoed across Hampton Court Palace, 2-year-old Lucas Salvola was finally allowed to join his mother, Kristin Armstrong, on the podium. Smiles spread across both their faces as Armstrong scooped the toddler up into her arms and held the gold medal around her neck.

“I think it brought a tear to all our eyes,” Armstrong’s sister-in-law Marge Wilson said. “Just to see her on the podium and hear the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’”

For the group of 12 sisters-in-law, nieces, nephews and significant others, seeing Armstrong win her second time trial (the first was at Beijing in 2008) was the highlight of their trip to the London Olympic Games.

The family finally got a chance to relax Thursday morning as it sat in the lobby of the London Hilton Metropole reflecting on the last few days and making plans for the rest of its trip.

“It was surreal,” Marge said. “[My husband] Brady always knew she’d win. You just want it so bad.”

Between two races, a minor crash and a gold medal, the days leading up to Armstrong’s second gold medal were full of both excitement and anxiety for the Wilson clan, related to Armstrong through her husband, Joe Salvola.

Anxiety at the sidelines

July 28 marked the family’s first day in London, but its true purpose for being there didn’t come until the next day.

Joined by Lucas, the Wilsons stood by the 500-meter mark near Buckingham Palace late Sunday morning awaiting the start of the women’s cycling road race.

The family didn’t have any signs or American flags to hang over the railing lining the course (“We’re lamenting that fact,” said Armstrong’s nephew Matt Wilson), but it did bring the love and family support.

Although the group was there to cheer Armstrong on, her brother-in-law Brady Wilson knew it wasn’t her event. Amidst gasps from his family, he said he doubted she would win the race.

“She’s not much of a sprinter,” he said, defending himself.

The nerves the family felt as the race drew closer weren’t just because it was about to watch Armstrong compete, though. About 30 minutes before the race, the group became anxious as umbrellas popped up along the course to shield the crowd from the rain.

Armstrong had broken her collarbone on a wet track in a race in her hometown of Boise, Idaho, three months earlier, and none of them wanted her slipping again. But two-thirds of the way into the corner, Armstrong was involved in a minor crash at the bottom of Box Hill, falling on the same shoulder she broke in May.

“We all got sick to our stomachs,” Marge said.

It’s crashes like these that make it rough knowing an Olympic athlete at times. According to Marge, Armstrong’s mother can’t even watch her race—live or on TV.

Armstrong recovered after the fall but still didn’t win the road race. She placed 35th with a time of 3:36:16.

‘No luck. No nothing.’

Although Sunday didn’t bring another medal, the family was more confident on Wednesday as it prepared to cheer Armstrong on in what cyclists call the “race of truth.” With just the rider against the clock, it’s the true test of their ability.

“She can just do her tunnel vision,” Armstrong’s niece Audrey Wilson said. “She just goes out there and knows what she has to do.”

After recovering from Sunday’s scare, Armstrong’s family was ready to take its place on the sidelines once again, this time near Hampton Court Palace.

Wednesday morning, as Marge stood by the side of the course accompanied by her husband, daughters and son, she could feel the electric tension in the air. This was Armstrong’s last attempt at a gold medal.

The family positioned itself as close to the finish line as it possibly could without having tickets. Shortly after 1 p.m., everyone watched on a big screen as Armstrong rolled down the ramp, the last of the cyclists to start her time trial.

As Armstrong neared the point where the family was standing, many around it had realized the group was related to the reigning gold medalist defending her position. Murmurs of, “That’s Kristin’s family. That’s her family,” echoed through the crowd.

Although Team Great Britain fans surrounded the family, cheers erupted throughout the area as the 38-year-old cyclist crossed the finish line and claimed her gold medal. Her family couldn’t have been prouder.

“She deserved this,” said Armstrong’s sister-in-law Sue Henderson, one of the few able to stand in the ticketed area with Lucas to see the finish line. “No luck. No nothing. She just worked hard.”

Sharing in the celebration

Despite the pride the family has for Armstrong, it isn’t always easy having an Olympic athlete in the family.

Want to go out on a leisurely bike ride with her? Not possible, said her niece Audrey Wilson.

“You could only stay with her for half the ride,” Audrey’s brother Matt said.

Even Armstrong’s husband, Joe Salvola, who also cycles, can only keep up with her for half the ride, Marge said.

It’s no surprise for the family Armstrong won her second gold, but it also knows how far she’s come since it first met her. At that point, she had just picked up cycling after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her hips and told she could no longer participate as a triathlete.

“We were just so happy when she made her first pro cycling team,” her niece Michelle Wilson said.

Training and preparing mentally for her two races have kept Armstrong busy throughout the past week. Only her husband and parents, who helped with bike preparations, were able to see her prior to Wednesday night’s celebratory dinner, when the rest of the family joined. Even her son Lucas stayed with his aunts, uncles and cousins for a majority of the time.

But the family has been understanding throughout.

“We don’t want to distract her,” Brady said. “We know she’s so focused.”

Now that the Olympic Games are over, Armstrong is heading back to the U.S. to watch the rest of the Games from the comfort of her home. Her family is off to explore the rest of London and the United Kingdom.

Check out our full photo gallery of the Women’s Cycling Road Race.

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.

Gold medal highlighted but has not defined 81-year-old Olympian’s life

By Jessica Pettengill  |  BSU at the Games

Greg Bell was once known as the world’s greatest long jumper. Almost 60 years ago, he received the gold medal in long jump at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia.

With a mighty leap, Greg Bell takes home the gold at the 1956 Summer Olympic Games in Melbourne. Photo courtesy: Bruce Howard

Now at the age of 81, Bell resides with his wife, Mary, in Logansport, Ind., the only state in which he has ever lived.

But Bell views himself as more than just an Olympic champion. He is the head of dentistry at Logansport Hospital. He is a husband and father. He is a sketcher, a woodworker, an author, a gardener, a poet and, perhaps most importantly, a motivational speaker. Bell’s athletic career lasted only a fraction of his lifetime, just like the champion title is only one fraction of his personality.

“I am tremendously proud of my Olympic gold medal,” Bell said as he retrieved his medal from the back of a desk drawer. “But if that’s all I had to show after 81 years of living, that’s not very much at all.”

Bell broke into the track-and-field scene first by breaking every long jump record at Garfield High School. After high school he enlisted in the military and won first place at the European Championship for the Armed Forces. During his studies at Indiana University between 1955 and 1958, Bell was the highest-ranked long jumper in the world. And at the age of 26, he earned the gold medal for long jump at the ’56 Olympic Games.

Despite all of these achievements, Bell admits he is still surprised to see his face on celebratory banners that line the streets in his hometown of Terre Haute. Bell views his long-jump legacy more as a beginning for his future than the life-defining achievement that most would expect it to be.

“One word I would use to describe my life would be ‘serendipity,’” he said. “I was a complete non-entity until someone stumbled upon me and took an interest in me for no reason whatsoever.”

That someone to whom Bell credits all of his success, athletic and otherwise, was his coach, physician, and life-long friend, Dr. William Bannon. Bannon was the first person to push Bell to pursue a future through long jump. After recognizing Bell’s athletic accomplishments in the Army, Bannon attempted to convince Bell to consider Indiana University to hone his skills.

Bell did not believe that his ability was worth much of anything. “During those days I thought that if I could have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket, I would be a huge success,” he said. Being the middle child of a poor, African-American family with 10 children, he had already surpassed his family’s expectations by graduating high school and finding a job on a farm. Bell never thought he would achieve anything worth writing about. Finally after a year, Bell caved to Bannon’s pressure and became a Hoosier.

“As they say, from then on it’s history,” he said.

It is the belief in the power of the support from just one individual that Bell exemplifies in his motivational speeches. Bell hopes that passing on the same confidence and opportunity he received will inspire other young athletes and honor the late doctor.

Bell’s philosophy is embodied in his poem titled “I Believe in You.” He often recites the poem from memory during his speeches. Bell writes, “There seems to be no limit as to what a man can do/ If he’s buoyed up by the current of an ‘I believe in you.’”

“Be who you are. Just because you don’t win a gold medal doesn’t mean you’re nobody,” he advises. “I just want people to know that athletes have more facets.”

A major facet of Bell’s life was the history he made with his natural athletic ability. He has competed alongside and been in the company of world-class athletes like Jorma Valkama and Muhammad Ali. He was the fifth man in the world to jump 26 feet. His NCAA, Indiana University, and high-school long-jump records have held for almost half his lifetime. He was the first long jumper to be inducted into the Track & Field Hall of Fame. He achieved all of this when racial tensions in the United States were still high. And yet Bell still looks on his athletic career with humility.

When Bell was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1988, instead of donating an old pair of running shoes or his gold medal, he instead gave three pieces of poetry to be displayed in the museum. One of these  poems was “I Believe in You.”

“I have never had a problem separating who I am from what I did. That does not define me,” he said. “In fact, as soon as you define me, you negate me. I’m a lot more.”

 

Jessica Pettengill is a sophomore magazine and photojournalism major at Ball State University. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.