Posts tagged "Katelynn Thys"

Memories of London 2012 from world travelers

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

London Travelers share their opinions on what made London a great place to host the Summer Games.

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

The Games draw to a close

By Charlie Akers and Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

Marathon attendees reflect on their Olympic experiences and admiration for the host city during London 2012. A welcoming atmosphere, bubbling personalities and overabundance of sunshine made these Olympic Games an enjoyable experience. Men’s marathon was one of the last events to take place. It was open and free to the public, which increased attendance and energetic spirits as the Games drew to a close.

Olympic volunteers: The face of London 2012

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

The Olympic Games came to London for the first time since 1948 – the exact same amount of time since volunteers began helping at the events.

For this year’s Games, the London Organizing Committee of Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) had 70,000 volunteers around the city and United Kingdom.

Jean Tomlinson, director of human resources for LOCOG, said the group started spreading the word they would need volunteers’ years ago and had people and organizations register before the recruitment campaign even launched. In 2010, it officially launched the program as an extensive education campaign, but also spread the word through volunteer organizations and LOCOG’s national and regional programs. The committee also teamed with McDonalds as a presenting partner for the London 2012 Games Maker Program.

“This is the first time an Olympic organizing committee has turned to a commercial sponsor to be involved in the volunteer program,” Marita Upenience said, the Olympic Games communications officer for McDonald’s.

McDonalds also spread the word about volunteering through flyers and ads in it 1,200 UK restaurants. After spreading the word for the need of people, the program received 240,000 applications. With this abundance of applications, the committee set up nine volunteer centers around the UK. McDonalds helped support the 2,500 volunteers that conducted the interviewees. Over 14 months, McDonald’s supported 2,500 volunteers who conducted the interviews in search of finding the best candidates to be the faces of the games – The Games Makers’.

“They asked a lot about what experience I had. I help manage the County’s Fencing Competition, which is like a mini Olympics since there are competitors from all over,” Hannah Chenneour-Cocking said. “The volunteering process was long and you had to have extra knowledge about sports to do the best job.”

Chenneour-Cocking was nearly pushed out the door she said during her thirty-minute interview because she spoke so much about her passion and excitement to be a part of the Games.

“It’s just an amazing opportunity, I am so excited,” she said about finding out she was a Game Ability Team member, which assists visitors with extras needs around Olympic Park and helps visitors their accommodations. “I can’t wait to be a part of the faces of the games.”

After the interview process volunteers went through an orientation training to give them an overview of the Games. This was followed by role-specific training to provide them with more detail about the individual duties they had. Finally, they went through venue-specific training, where they learned more about the site they would be volunteering for and meet the rest of their team.

“We helped plan and design the training the volunteers have been receiving over these past months, including welcoming 12,000 of them to our training centre in London for Event Leadership training. By the time the volunteers reach Games time, collectively they will have undertaken 1.2 million hours of training,” Upenience said.

Throughout the Games, all volunteers, no matter where they are stationed, are notified regularly on who won what events and what is going on around the city. Each volunteer is also be armed with packets of information so they can accommodate as many people as possible. The volunteers have also been easy to spot thanks to their wardrobe: a bright pink and purple uniform, which consists of a polo or sweater and cap.

“Well, quite simply, the Games wouldn’t happen without our volunteers,” Tomlinson said. “They are absolutely key to helping us put on successful Games and we know that good volunteers make the difference between a good and a great Games. We’re absolutely thrilled with the response we’ve had to the program and the volunteers we’ve selected. Whenever we have the opportunity to meet some of our volunteers, we’re always so humbled by their dedication and passion. I know they will do us proud this summer.”

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

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

Rental bikes offer fast, easy way to get around Olympic city

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

There I was, the wind blowing through my hair, a giant smile on my face, riding a rental bike to Tower Bridge in London. I thought I was safe on the bicycle path, even though cars were flying by only a few feet away from me—at least until I head a loud “hooooonk” right behind me. I turned around and my heart dropped as I saw a doubledecker bus heading straight for me.

I was unsure if I was going to live to see another day.

For the first time since arriving in England more than six weeks ago, I felt a wave of uncertainty rush over me. I felt my eyes might pop out of my head when I saw the gigantic bus hovering over me like Tower Bridge itself. I can only imagine the laughter of the people watching as I scurried to peddle as fast as I could to get out of the way.

I wasn’t exactly peddling towards safety, though, as the rest of traffic was zipping by. How was I supposed to know that the bike lanes in London share the same space as the buses? Merging in and out of traffic was difficult, and every time I would signal to get in front of a vehicle or turn right I would hold my breath. Because breathing would cause a distraction, right?

If the cost to travel through this magnificent city wasn’t so high, I never would have had this heart-racing, mind-blowing excursion—all thanks to 1-pound rental bike from Barclays.

I had a few reservations from the beginning. The past month in England, I have learned the English are fast-paced, even when they drive. Watching traffic in London makes downtown Chicago, at rush hour, look like a piece of cake.

Normally, I drive on the right-hand side of the road, but if you didn’t know already, in England they drive on the left At first I only took left-hand turns because I was too scared to even try and attempt to turn right, but after an hour I started to feel a little bit more brave. I mean I couldn’t keep turning left forever when I could be missing out on something that could be … right.

I observed other bicyclers so I would have an idea on what hand motions to make when turning or stopping and simply how to bike through a city that has more traffic than I have ever witnessed in my life. There just doesn’t seem to be any bicycle rules here. I could cut through stopped traffic and ride right between the cars waiting at stop-lights to get to the front of the line, where there is a specific portion of road marked off with a bicycle on it so we could go first.

Riding a bike through London is not something you want to do if you want to have a good hair day. By the end of my four-hour bike ride, my hair had been whipped in every direction and the resulting knots that consumed my head were insanely noticeable. On the positive side, I did get to ride over Tower Bridge, see Big Ben and the London Eye, go down Fleet Street and anywhere else I wanted in the city.

While I was riding across the Tower Bridge I thought to myself, this is a perfect place to take a video on my iPhone so I can show my family back home the exciting things I am doing. So riding down one of the busiest roads/bridges in London, without a helmet, at 5 p.m. when traffic is heaviest, I whipped out my phone and took a 20-second video of myself with the most goofy smile on my face, whooping and hollering because I’m on a bike, on a bridge, in London.

While I was out, I met Pam and Ian Wilson from Chelsea, a small town outside London, who were taking their friends visiting from France, Delphine and Philip Shockey, around the city to show off all the changes that have been done to it since they last visited.

“It’s just so much fun to be able to ride through this great city with my friends,” Pam said. “Especially since there’s loads of people here and some roads are closed, this just seems to be the easiest route.”

To get my rental bike, I just walked up to one of the many big, blue pillars that say “Barclays Bike Hire” and inserted my credit card, with no idea the adventure I was about to begin. On the screen it asked if I wanted to rent a bike for a day, which would cost a pound, or seven days for 5 pounds. Not knowing this would be something I would want to do again, I chose one day, and a little piece of paper printed out a five-digit access code I would need to unlock the bike. Then I just typed in the code, pulled the bike out of the lock and began a day that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

Even if it included the scariest moment of my trip.

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

Control the London Eye’s lights with your Twitter and Facebook messages

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

The London Eye will be adding a bit of flavor to the night sky during the Olympic Games this year. Instead of its typical blue lights, a new software program will track tweets and illuminate the iconic attraction with green, orange and purple lights every evening.

Ambassadors for the EDF Energy London Eye hit the streets in bright orange shirts and perfectly white pants with a giant dry-erase board in the shape of a Polaroid picture frame, asking people to write a message on the frame and have their photograph taken with it. They are displaying the pictures on their motion control boat right behind the Eye, where people are encouraged to visit and tweet, and at the Waterloo tube station. The ambassadors were found through a promotions company and are trying to help everyone become affiliated with how EDF is sponsoring the energy and electricity that is running the Olympic Stadium and now the EDF Energy London Eye.

“This is the best way to be a part of the Olympics, we are interacting with the people through a brand,” EDF Ambassador Kayleigh Thadani said.

Marketing Director for EDF Energy, Martin Stead, said the way they have promoted the motion control boat has been really obvert.

“We tried to create a sense of intrigue, and what we see is a number of people who found out about it, come down,” he said.

The EDF ambassadors are trying to publicize the interactive light show taking place each night during the Olympic Games at the Eye. Ambassador Rosie Akerman explained how it works: When people visit the Eye’s boat and tweet or post on Facebook about the Olympic Games, special software filters the messages into positive, neutral or negative categories. Each evening, the Eye will show “How Britain is Feeling Today” because the technology is only tracking tweets that are being done through the UK. If 75 percent of the messages were positive, the giant wheel will light up 75-percent orange. Purple lights indicate the amount of negative messages and green lights the neutral ones.

Jessica Pier, SoSo Limited employee, said that EDF Energy came to them and asked them to create a software that would filter the tweets into the positive, negative or neutral categories. The software takes the tweets regarding the Games and runs it through a process depending on emotional words, then the algorithm adds the words together in a formula that gives the overall rating on how positive or negative the status was, and the end result is a light show that gives a summary of the day.

“It picks up on key words, so it’s not always perfect, but it is pretty accurate,” Akerman said.

Akerman explained that if you tweeted, for example, “The Olympic Games are brilliant” the software would pick up on brilliant and put it in the positive category, but if you said “Olympic Park is horrible, nothing to do” it would be detect the word horrible and be filtered into the negative category.

The light show brings to life what the nation is feeling about the games.

“In the U.K we have an ambition to be the feel better energy company, so this is our way of engaging people in the games,” Martin Stead said.

Eric Anderson of Dallas and Adam Elkhad of Minneapolis wrote “Go USA” on the Polaroid frame when they had their picture taken.

“I think this is just a great idea,” Elkhad said. “They’re using a recognizable piece of landscape, too, that will catch people’s eyes.”

The sentiment was shared among locals as well.

“This is just so clever and amazing. My family and I love it,” London native Melanie Gordon said.

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

The U.K. has my love of preservatives growing stale

Artificial preservatives have gone from being a triumph of modern science to, in many people’s opinions, a poison that is affecting us all from the inside out. When I first came to England, I had no idea the British limit the amount of preservatives in their food.  After a few meals, I started to notice a common logo on all the packages announcing a lack of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

My first bite of a candy bar had me instantly falling in love with the light chocolate taste and thinking this is the best chocolate I have ever tasted. Although the loaf of bread I bought only lasted about four days, why is it as Americans we have to have our food preserved for such a long time? Are preservatives actually necessary? I am now very fond of the idea of ONLY buying what I will eat in the next few days, and don’t waste as much food as I would back home.

I’m very concerned about recent research showing health problems associated with certain artificial preservatives. I may have to go to the grocery store more then once every two weeks, but I am falling madly in love with idea of only eating natural preservatives and living a healthier life. I mean, do we really need more studies to prove to us that natural is always more beneficial then man-made alternatives?

Katelynn Thys | Features Reporter


And don’t forget the tea towels!

On June 2, 2012, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 60 years on the throne. She is the second queen in the United Kingdom’s history to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. There were week-long festivities in honor of the Queen, but the Brits will continue to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event throughout the year.

A study done by MoneySupermarket found families are expected to spend around £823 million between buying extra snacks and drinks, attending festivities and buying souvenirs. With the Jubilee falling the same year as the London 2012 Olympic Games, British pride seems to be at an all-time high throughout the nation.

In Worcester (where I am currently staying) every shop I walk in has at least a dozen items on display for Queen Elizabeth II. The Brits have found a way to put the Queen’s face on literally everything possible, from shirts, scarves and clothing to dishes, pots and utensils, cups for tea, tea pots, calendars and of course an endless amount of books.

God save the queen!

Katelynn Thys | Features Reporter