Posts tagged "Lindsey Gelwicks"

Many sites, from playhouses to train platforms, inspire pilgrimages in the Olympic host city

This package was compiled by writers from BSU at the Games.

Pilgrimage (n): “a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion … as to pay homage.”—Dictionary.com

The word pilgrimage often inspires images of religious relics and trips to the Holy Land. However, pilgrimages take many forms.

Many of the thousands of fans filling Olympic stadiums in London have stolen time from gold medals and world records to visit other, less obvious places in England’s capital city. You see them everywhere, trying to push a cart through a wall in King’s Cross station, or walking in single file across busy Abbey Road, or standing for the duration of a three-hour Shakespeare play.

They have traveled thousands of miles and parted with unknown sums for this—a photo, a feeling, a moment. And not because guidebooks told them to (though many do), not because their travel companions or the folks at home necessarily understand.

Their reasons are both highly personal and comfortingly communal. They are pilgrims. They are geeks.

And everyone is a geek about something.

—Kait Buck

TOWER OF LONDON

Hanging out with dead people at the most haunted place in London

By Kait Buck

The famous White Tower at the Tower of London. The tower was originially built as a palace by William the Conquerer with the rest of the grounds being built over time to protect the central palace. Photo by Bobby Ellis.

Thirty-two pounds. It’s the equivalent of 52 U.S. dollars. Fifty-two dollars could buy a girl a lot of things.

What did it buy this girl? Entrance into the Tower of London—twice.

I’m not your typical tourist. I eat, sleep and breathe history, and Great Britain just happens to be home to my favorite time period. Medieval monarchs are my calling. I’ve indulged in countless books on the Tudor dynasty and their early predecessors.

And the Tower of London is a central landmark in these historical tales, as the site of coronation processions, mysterious disappearances and unprecedented executions.

At the Tower, I stood before the unmarked graves of 1,000 headless “traitors.” I examined graffiti carved into the palace walls by prisoners from my history books. I walked through the rooms where King Henry VI and the little York princes were murdered. I passed the Traitor’s Gate where Queen Anne Boleyn was brought for her coronation and later her execution. I studied the armor worn by the infamous King Henry VIII (and almost hyperventilated from excitement).

You see, these landmarks in the Tower are more than signs to read or the butt of witty jokes by a tour guide. People I’ve admired, respected and hated walked the ground beneath my feet. So rather than “tourist,” I’d say I’m a pilgrim—one who journeys a long distance to see a place she holds sacred.

My pilgrimage ended at Tower Green, a site where three queens and a dozen other noblemen lost their lives. Here a monument was erected in their honor, and the description engraved captures the motives of my journey beautifully:

“Gentle visitor pause awhile. Where you stand, death cut away the light of many days. Here jeweled names were broken from the vivid thread of life. May they rest in peace while we walk the generations around their strife and courage under these restless skies.”

 

SHAKESPEARE’S GLOBE THEATRE

Shakespeare enthusiasts go for the ‘groundling’ experience

By Emily Thompson

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is a popular tourist attraction. This modern recreation of the Globe was opened in 1997. Photo by Valerie Carnevale.

Along the River Thames in the midst of the modern architecture of Central London, Shakespeare fans step out of the 21st century and into a bit of the medieval world.

Shakespeare’s Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, which was built in 1599 by the playing company the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. It’s set up just like the original Globe, with a ground level, seats that span the circle shape of the theatre and an open roof. The Globe is both a tribute to Shakespeare and a venue for performances of his work.

Just outside the venue, “groundlings” queue for nearly two hours before the play begins. They only pay 5 pounds for a presale ticket, but that also means standing for the duration of the three-hour performance.

Clare Eanes was the very first person in the groundling line to see “Richard III” Wednesday night.

“Part of the fun of being a groundling is all atmospheric: the groundling community, and you get to chat with people in the queue,” she said. “I wouldn’t want to sit in the seats.”

Eanes is studying Shakespeare for her master’s degree at the University of Birmingham. “Richard III” was the only Shakespeare play she had not yet seen.

Admitting to being a diehard Shakespeare fan, her eyes lit up as she talked about why she loves seeing his plays.

“All of my focus through my study has been how you take Shakespeare’s language and then put it on the stage, and how that works when you have an actor performing it and an audience understanding it,” she said. “All his words bring his characters to life.”

A few people down the line, Lesley Jones waited patiently for the perfect standing spot. She had been to five shows at the Globe. This was her second play at the Globe that day; she saw “Henry V” in the afternoon.

She sat in line for over an hour and a half but said that it’s well worth the wait.

“It’s the first time that I’ve been able to get right to the front, which was really exciting this afternoon,” she said. “So I want to do it again.”

The line finally started moving, and the groundlings filed into the theatre.

Nikita Nemygin found his spot up against the stage. Even through intermission, he held his ground so no one could take his prime location.

This was his fourth time seeing “Richard III” but his first time seeing it at the Globe.

“It’s very interesting to see how the history evolves in Shakespeare [plays],” he said. “I’ve found that ‘Richard III’ is one of the best histories of Shakespeare.”

He’s no stranger to the Globe, though, as he saw every play last season and hopes to see all of this season’s.

“I enjoy that it’s 5 pounds,” he said. “I enjoy standing here, and the atmosphere is very homey. And it’s not really touristy.”

During the performance, most audience members seem to forget they’re living in the modern world and become entranced by the story unfolding on the stage. Aside from a few jets that fly over the open roof and act as a reminder of the world outside, the atmosphere holds true to the Elizabethan era.

“I just the love the way that you can come along and be surrounded by all these people in the queue,” Eanes said. “Some of them will be Shakespeare academics; some of them will be tourists that have never seen Shakespeare before.

“And they’re all going to leave having something different from it. Some of them will understand all the complex references; some of them will just love the spectacle. That’s what I really love, is how many different people his words can touch and the different ways that [Shakespeare] does that.”

 

KING’S CROSS STATION

For Harry Potter lovers, Platform 9 ¾ is the London landmark they must see

By Jack Meyer

Patricia Boal gets her photograph taken with a dolley at the fictional Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. The area stands next to a store that sells “Harry Potter” souveniers. Photo by Bobby Ellis.

Laughter rang through London’s King’s Cross-St. Pancras train station Tuesday as children, teens, 20-somethings and parents took turns having their pictures taken attempting to walk through one of the station’s solid brick walls into the magical world of Harry Potter.

Unlike in J.K. Rowling’s hit books, no one actually managed to pass through the wall with the silver luggage trolley to the fictional train and Platform 9 3/4 that takes wizards and witches to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy. But that doesn’t stop the books’ fans from coming to the site where half of a luggage trolley is made to look like as if it is on its way through the wall.

Three girls from Maryland pulling luggage joked about being in their 20s and still excited to see the platform in person after having their picture taken pushing the trolley together.

The three said they had used their day to see two of the most important things in London for them, Abbey Road Studios and Platform 9 3/4. They plan to see Buckingham Palace and the Houses of Parliament later in their trip.

“Every kid wants to find out they’re a wizard and not just what they are,” Kate Selby of Gaithersburg, Md., said. “It makes it real; we get to take part in Harry’s trip being in King’s Cross.”

Parents stood smiling alongside children in line to have a turn at attempting to push through onto the fictional platform, which isn’t really at the place in the station used in the movies that accompany the seven-book series.

But that didn’t seem to bother any of the passersby.

One parent, Amy Haas from Hilliard, Ohio, was far more excited than her two teenage kids to throw her bag into the basket of the trolley and fly towards its handlebars.

“J.K. Rowling is absolutely my favorite author,” Haas said. “It just makes the fantasy more real if you imagine yourself doing it.”

“She’s a kook,” chimed Amy’s husband, Dan, as their kids laughed.

The group said they had skipped seeing London’s famous Westminster Abbey for their mother to have a chance to see the trolley on their way to Wembley Stadium to take in an Olympic soccer match between Japan and Mexico.

Haas said she was inspired by Rowling’s books to begin writing herself. She said she hopes to have a book finished in the next three years and intends to have it published.

John Larkin, 12, of New Jersey, ran to push against the trolley with his two sisters while their father stood to the side to take pictures of the three children looking back, beaming.

Larkin said seeing the exhibit was second on his list of things to see in London, just behind the Olympic Games.

“It inspires me because Harry was like a nobody before he became a wizard,” Larkin said. “And then he’s like an everybody now.”

 

ABBEY ROAD

Tourists fly around the world just to walk across this road—Abbey Road

By Lindsey Gelwicks

Members of the French Olympic Team pose for the famous Abbey Road crossing photo with their medals. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.

The walk down Grove End Road exiting St. John’s Wood Station is quiet—until it meets Abbey Road. There, a little ways down from Abbey Road Studios, groups of Beatles fans attempt to cross the legendary crosswalk hoping to recreate the album cover and capture the perfect picture.

A constant stream of cars makes it easier said than done. On Wednesday, as soon as traffic started to slow, six friends ran across laughing and speaking quickly in Spanish. They struck a pose as the seventh in their group snapped a photo before dashing to the other side to let traffic flow through again. After checking the photo, they tried again several times with different combinations of the group.

Moments later, brothers Joe and Alex Morris of Wales casually strolled across the street, high-fiving when they get to the other end. Goal accomplished. Yet their dad, Michael, standing farther down the street with a camera, shooed them back across for a better photo. Their mother, Anne, laughed as she watched them from her post on a brick wall.

“I think it’s really funny how people can’t walk naturally when they’re doing this,” she said as Alex walked a bit stiffly across.

By this time, Joe had removed his shoes to imitate Paul McCartney.

“It’s eerie,” he said. “Just being in the same place as they were 40 years ago.”

Actually, it was exactly 43 years to the day that John, Paul, George and Ringo stopped traffic to shoot the cover photo for their 11th studio album—Aug. 8, 1969.

Andy David from Australia was one of the few who seemed to know this. The self-confessed Beatles nerd grew up listening to the Beatles since the age of 6.

“But what kind of Beatles fan am I coming here without a Beatles shirt?” he said as he looked down at his outfit.

As David, who came alone, searched for someone to take his picture, Texan Meera Nandlal took her turn crossing the street.

“I look like a complete nut trying to get the pose,” she said. “When you’re thinking about it, you don’t look as graceful as the Beatles did.”

Soon, Mario Pipola and Carmen Norero, London flatmates originally from Italy and Chile respectively, approached her and asked if she could take their picture walking across.

For Pipola, walking across Abbey Road was something he couldn’t miss out on while in London.

“I have to say thank-you to the Beatles,” he said. “I think they were a starting point in my life.”

His father listened to the Beatles when Pipola was a child and it was because of them that he learned to play guitar. He felt that he owed them for the impact music has had on his life.

Most motorists were patient with the groups, but not all. Cars honked as people stalled in the middle of the road. Anxious motorcyclists zoomed through the groups. Even with people standing in the middle, cars tried to inch past.

“I like this one,” Nandlal said, laughing as she looked through her photos from that day, stopping on one that had a car in it. “It shows how brave I am.”

After 13 attempts to get the pose right, Nandlal ran out into the middle of the crosswalk again. She had to get the perfect photo because she said all her friends would critique it.

“Just one more,” she said. “I want to get it before dark.”

Instead of recreating the iconic walking pose, she squared herself off to the photographer, plastered a big grin on her face and threw her hands up in the air as if to say, “I’m finally here!”

 

PRINCESS DIANA MEMORIAL

Beloved princess inspires devotion to memorial fountain

By Jessica Pettengill

The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain provides a place for family’s to relax in Hyde Park. Photo by Corey Ohlenkamp.

Princess Diana was one of Great Britain’s most beloved royals. Until her death in a tragic car accident in 1997, she served as an inspiration to the British people. Now the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park in London carries on her memory.

The circular granite fountain creates a path of endless flowing water and encourages passersby to sit and dip their feet in the current.

One such visitor, Virginia Engles, sat quietly one recent afternoon at the top of the lawn of the memorial, looking on the scene. Half-dressed children ran in and out of the water.

A native Londoner, Engles visits the memorial about once a month. Though her reasons vary, she said the Diana Memorial holds a special place in her heart.

“In the summer, I’ll bring the kids to play in the water,” she said, pointing at Julia, 8, and Tom, 6. The two joined the other children splashing around on the granite.

“But mostly when I come here it’s to sit and read, or meditate, or just not do anything,” she said.

Engles believes that this is one of the most tranquil places in London. The 143-acre park provides a calm backdrop to the rush of the water.

“Her life was so full of giving and love, even after the divorce,” said Engles. “She was the type of person who won a Nobel Peace Prize but wasn’t above visiting those with AIDS, or simply dedicating something to the children of London.”

The fountain is not a grand marble statue or an overly thought-out metaphor. It is simple and elegant and open to all who should pass by—much as Diana lived her life, according to Engles.

 

WIMBLEDON

Hardcore tennis fans visit Wimbledon just for a peek through the gates

By Jonathan Batuello

The sounds of grunts and tennis balls being hit back and forth were gone. The crowds who loudly cheered for the United Kingdom’s Andy Murray to win a gold medal in tennis a day earlier were at different Olympic sites and places across the city. Still, Wimbledon had tennis players and fans milling around outside.

Even with the gates locked and no one permitted on the grounds.

“It’s history in there,” Kasey Plighton from Connecticut said. “I played tennis in high school, and it’s a place I always wanted to go.”

Plighton had made the trip to London for the Olympic Games with her mother, JoAnna. A recent college graduate, the 22-year-old didn’t play at the University of Colorado but still felt a connection to the sport and the site of the historic tournament.

Jayme Robinson, who lives a 15-minute walk from Wimbledon, said a lot of people like Plighton and her mom come through the area during the year to peek in the gates and walk around when tournaments aren’t going on.

“Anytime I walk down here in the summer (in Wimbledon Park, adjacent to the tennis venue) there are people around who have cameras and iPhones up,” said Moreton, who doesn’t play tennis himself. “Sometimes you’ll see them pretending to swing a racquet or something like that, too.”

As Plighton kept walking around, she peered in through openings in the fencing. It was the only way she would get to view Centre Court or Henman Hill. She peered over hedges and attempted to see everything she could from the outside.

“I wish I could walk inside, but at least I’m here,” she said.

The Olympic flame lit a fire in me, too

I’m not going to sugarcoat it; as I sat on the plane to London two weeks ago, I wanted nothing to do with journalism. I was exhausted, burnt out. I was done.

For the past month, I had been wracking my brain trying to figure out what else I could do with my life. Go into business? PR or marketing? Set my sights on being a stay-at-home mom? Nothing felt right. I bided my time hoping something would jump into my path screaming, “Pick me!”

Three days into being in England, something did—journalism. For me, it was the thrill of talking to all these people from other countries and hearing their stories that made me fall in love again. It was the luck (or journalist’s instinct, as my editor here said) of picking out the right person in the crowd to get that one perfect interview (Kristin Armstrong’s family, in this case). It was trying to take a day off, yet seeing possible stories everywhere I turned.

And now, here I am, sitting in a London Starbucks down the road from Farringdon Station, nursing my last sips of coffee, preparing for the day’s possibilities, and all that surrounds me is journalism.

At the table behind, two men discuss their careers in journalism. To my left, a young woman is being interviewed for a job and talks about her skills in writing features and editorials.

I don’t usually believe in “signs,” but in this moment I do. Journalism is calling.

Lindsey Gelwicks  |  Features Reporter

@lbgelwicks

The face of the Olympic fan: Diversity and sense of fun characterize Hyde Park viewing areas

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

The atmosphere at Hyde Park depends on two things: the teams playing that day and the weather.

When it rains, the park is nearly empty. Small groups of people are scattered in front of the big screens broadcasting events live and for free for the general public.

Though many are intent on watching the Games, some come to enjoy the atmosphere. A young man juggling five stackable cups of beer meanders through the small crowd. On top of a blanket covering the wood-chip-covered ground, a teenage boy sleeps with his head resting on a backpack.

But when the sun finally shows itself, Hyde Park changes.  Swarms of people elbow their way through crowds to food vendors or games set up for children. Pathways that existed days prior disappear as fans sit in any inch of space available.

But no matter what the weather, fans from nations across the globe congregate to cheer on their own in the Olympic Games.

ENGLAND

Mark Griffiths of England displays his pride for Team GB on his face.

Jean Baguley sat engulfed in national pride on a folding camp chair in front of Screen 1. Images of the Union Jack surrounded her, from the hat atop her head of white hair to the blanket on the ground where her daughter Lynne Wood sat. Like many in the park, Baguley had the British flag wrapped around her shoulders.

“Come on. Come on. Come on!” Baguley yelled, pounding her fist on her thigh in excitement, as Team GB struggled to keep the lead against Germany in the men’s eight rowing event.

“It makes such a difference,” said Wood, a London native. “In London, you feel more a part of it.”

While they could have watched the Games in the comfort of their own home, the pair went to Hyde Park despite the rain sprinkling down that morning. For Baguley, the atmosphere drew her in.

“It’s all of these people of all nationalities in one place,” she said.

GERMANY

The gold, red and black of the German flag wrapped around Daniel Stampmik’s shoulders stood out amid the red, white and blue of the British fans.

Stampmik came to the Olympic Games with his parents and sister. The sports fanatics were some of those fortunate to get tickets to live events.

The football match in Wembley Stadium was the highlight of his trip so far, he said, describing the excitement of being in the full stands.

“You’re part of the Olympics,” he said. “You can feel it.”

As Judith Ardnt pedaled down the ramp to start her time trial, Stampmik’s father raised his noisemaker above his head and twirled it around in support of the German cyclist.

NORTH AMERICA

Although Carolyn Graves and Wendy Kordesch were from different countries, the pair came together to Hyde Park to watch the Games. The Canadian and American, respectively, had been working on their oceanography doctorates in Southampton.

“You couldn’t have [the Olympic Games] so close and not go,” Graves said.

With tickets to the indoor volleyball game that night, the women killed time by lounging at Hyde Park.

SWEDEN

It hadn’t been the easiest day for Thomas Eddom, Ulrika Ronnermark and Monne Naesenius. The three ordered judo tickets through a website at home but discovered earlier that day that the vendor was unauthorized.

On top of that, the athlete they were rooting for, Sweden’s Marcus Nyman, lost his match early in the rounds.

Despite those disappointments, the three were making the most of their day as they sat around a picnic table, each nursing a beer. As coaches for youth judo teams, they enjoyed watching judo no matter who was sparring.

The park also gave them a chance to scope out others from their country. They just had to look for the bright blue and yellow of their nation’s flag.

NETHERLANDS

While most at Hyde Park chose to represent their countries through t-shirts or flags around their necks, Sjoerd Munnih and Franh van Sihhelerus took a different approach. Each sported a bold orange suit.

Although the Dutch flag is red, white and blue, orange represents the royal family and is used for sports jerseys.

Munnih had hoped that the suits would bring his team luck.

“It doesn’t work today, though, because we’re losing everything,” he said on his way to grab a beer.

CANADA

A group of Canadian super fans gather for a photo at Hyde Park, London.

With national spirit overflowing at Hyde Park, it’s easy for those from the same country to spot each other, just like Canadians Brad Watt and Megan Williams did with a group who called themselves “the Eh! Team.”

Although they wouldn’t normally have gotten along with someone from the other side of the country, Williams said, the Olympic Games were an exception.

“The Olympics generates a national pride you might not otherwise have,” she said.

The pair was in Vancouver for the winter 2010 Olympic Games and took advantage of family living in London to see the event again. Missing it wasn’t an option.

They arrived with more creativity than concrete plans. Days before, they traded a pair of Canadian sunglass with a Danish couple for tickets to rowing.

A young fan of Mexico.

MEXICO

Stationed in front of Screen 1, Maria Uribe and David Carpy intently watched as Mexico played Senegal in the men’s football quarterfinals. Carpy said he knew Mexico wasn’t decent at the Games, but he was confident they would win that day.

On the other side of the crowd, Susan Gonzalez watched the game with her brother. Each wore a sombrero in support of their country.

Although Gonzalez had lived in London for 13 years, she said it wasn’t difficult choosing which team to support.

“I’m Mexican 100 percent,” she said.

Thirty minutes later, when the game switched over to Screen 5, the two groups followed.

As Mexico scored their third goal of the game, Gonzalez whipped her sombrero off her head, tossed it to the ground and danced around it as the crowd around her erupted in cheers.

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.

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.

For family of Olympic cyclist, waiting’s the worst part

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

Nearly an hour before the women’s road race began; crowds start to appear beside the gates lining the track near Buckingham Palace. Up until that point, small clusters of people space themselves out along the edge of the road for one of the few free events of the Olympic Games.

Several groups hang their nations’ flags over the railing, clanging bells and cheering as their favorite cyclists ride past warming up before the 140-kilometer race.

Many are supporting athletes they’ve seen only in the media, but one group of Americans is there for a more personal reason—to support their family member.

Nieces, nephews and brothers- and sisters-in-law of U.S. Olympic cyclist Kristin Armstrong stand near the 500-meter mark of the race awaiting the start.

“I’m more anxious,” Armstrong’s nephew Matt Wilson said about what it’s like being there for a family member.

Matt was joined by his girlfriend, Laura Tedrick, his parents (Armstrong’s in-laws), Brady and Marge Wilson, and his sisters, one of which held Armstrong’s nearly 2-year-old son, Lucas.

This wasn’t the first time the family has supported Armstrong in her cycling endeavors. Brady and Marge were in Beijing in 2008 when Armstrong won gold in the time trials.

According to Brady, she keeps her medal in the gun safe.

“We’re from Idaho; everyone has a gun safe,” Matt added.

Brady is convinced Armstrong will win the time trials again this year on Wednesday. He isn’t as convinced about this race though, he said amid gasps from his family, telling him he couldn’t say things like that.

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

Brady explained the end of the road race comes down to sprinting head-on against the other competitors.

As the 30-minute mark before the race approaches, the previously sunny sky becomes overcast. Rain falls as umbrellas pop up along the track, sheltering spectators.

“I’m hopeful it’ll pass momentarily,” Matt said, who unlike the rest of his family had forgotten to bring a rain jacket or umbrella.

“At least we’re all packed in here. We can’t get too cold,” his father said.

A little rain isn’t a problem; they were more worried about the track being wet. Armstrong broke her collarbone after crashing in an Idaho race in May. Her family doesn’t want her to slip.

“It makes her more cautious,” Marge Wilson said of the uneasy weather.

The race is getting closer as the announcer introduces each of the countries in the day’s event. As the U.S. is called, the family cheers and pounds on the railing to make noise.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Tedrick said. “People come from all over the world to support their countries. I expected Europeans to be here, but there are people all the way from South America.”

Finally, the sky begins to clear up minutes before the race begins.

“Ten! Nine! Eight!” shouts the crowd, counting down to the start. Even little Lucas joins in.

Seconds later, the 66 cyclists fly by.

Armstrong’s family doesn’t have any signs or American flags to hang over the edge, a fact they lament Matt said, but they do have loud cheers of support to provide as Armstrong zooms past with the pack of riders.

“Did you see mommy?” Marge asked, turning to Lucas.

“Yeah!” Lucas shouted as he raised the red lollipop clutched in his hand up in the air.

UPDATE:

Kristin Armstrong finished 35th in the women’s road race. Two-thirds of the way into the race, at the bottom of Box Hill, she was involved in a minor crash. Her final time was 3:36:16. Armstrong competes in the time trials Wednesday.

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.

Find these new looks in London’s trendy clothing stores

By Lindsey Gelwicks  |  BSU at the Games

The Oxford Circus Underground station opens up to a sea of shoppers milling about the intersection of Regent and Oxford streets. Four royal-looking storefronts loom on each corner, each one identical, with three levels of broad windows rising above their ground floors. Only the signs indicating H&M, United Colors of Benetton, Niketown and Tezenis set each apart from the other.

Studs provide details to a variety of garments such as this denim jacket and white denim pants from the store Zara.

Tourists taking a break from the Olympic venues and Londoners alike mix on the street, providing an eclectic blend of styles ranging from trendy to jeans-and-t-shirt clad. But don’t look on the streets for the newest trends; look in the nearly 300 shops spread out within the heart of London shopping.

Inside lie several trends popular on the streets of England. Below are just a few to look out for:

- High/low hemlines. Found in dress, skirt or even t-shirt form, these hems are higher in the front than the back. Several styles feature them as a sheer overlay to a short skirt.

- Studs. First emerging in the 1970s punk scene, studs are covering everything—pants, jackets, shoes. Though most common on denim, some studs show up on lace, providing a juxtaposition to the soft, feminine style.

- Vintage. Vintage infuses nearly every style in every store. “England is crazy about vintage,” boutique employee Andre Amorin said.

- Prints. These aren’t the regular animal prints of past trends. Current prints covering shirts, shorts and dresses feature quirky objects like red lips, birds in flight and open umbrellas.

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.

I’m not a Brit, but I’m proud too

After discovering what some bars in London really think of journalists after they kicked me out, trekking around London for two hours, and getting locked shoeless out of my room, I decided to take London Evening Standard writer Nick Curtis’ advice that the Opening Ceremony may better be viewed from home.

Coming in late, I caught the end of the opening performance and watched enthralled as performers portrayed the early stages of technology and development of the industrial revolution. As five golden rings rose above the crowd and joined to form the universal Olympic symbol, chills ran up my spine and covered my arms with goose bumps, making the hairs stand on end. As the camera zoomed into the crowd of performers, the grin spread across one man’s face showed he felt the same chills and more. Pride for his country was painted all over his face.

But Brits aren’t the only ones who should be proud of their culture. England gave us the stories of our childhood in “Peter Pan,” “Harry Potter,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Mary Poppins.” It gave us iconic musicians known to every generation in the Beatles and Queen. England gave us the man who invented the World Wide Web (something I didn’t know before the ceremony).

A man in a pub asked me last night if Americans were glad the Olympic Games were in London this year, if we felt a special connection because it’s an English-speaking country.  To me, it didn’t make a difference, I told him. But now I am proud the Games are in London and proud of everything England has given to the world.

Lindsey Gelwicks  |  Features Reporter

@lbgelwicks

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.