Posts tagged "London 2012 Olympics"

Life is beautiful

We were set on a mission to find a store full of Team USA gear. After getting sketchy directions to the store by someone that had just gone there and was wearing the apparel, we walked for nearly 30 minutes without a single sighting of the store.

We kept on walking, determined to find this place, until we came across a set of Olympic rings that we hadn’t seen before and no one had seen until August 5th. The Olympic rings were created out of paint cans and the rings looked as though paint was still spilling out of them.

The rings where actually part of a giant show put on by Mr. Brainwash, the artist.

As we walked around the giant converted office space, it was clear the artist had used the entire space as his canvas. Pop art was scattered all over the place. Pieces ranged from The Beatles theme to giant rubber tire sculptures.

Mr. Brainwash has had several big art shows in cities like Los Angeles, New York City and Miami. London is his first solo art show in Europe and what a perfect timing with the Olympic Games being here.

It was a wonderland with strange objects all around. We got a kick out of taking pictures with the pieces. My favorite was a giant boom box. Although it wasn’t functional, it was fun to pretend like you were turning up the music.

Though there was a wide range of mediums, there were two consistent themes that Mr. Brainwash expressed. “Follow your dreams” and  “Life is beautiful”— two perfect themes to play along with the Olympics.

Michael Kerkhoff  |  Sports Reporter

How do you get a coffee date with a sports-writing legend? You ask

Wednesday morning, on the eve of the women’s soccer final between the U.S. and Japan, I had an opportunity to have coffee in a London Starbucks with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

How did I manage this? The power of Twitter.

I sent a tweet last week saying how cool it would be to get to meet some professional journalists currently in England doing Olympic coverage and included his Twitter handle in it. Less than an hour later, he replied back saying he was getting into London on Aug. 7 and would be happy to meet for coffee. When the alert came on my phone, I had to read it over several times to make certain my phone wasn’t playing a trick on me.

It wasn’t. And after a few tweets back and forth, we had arranged to meet Wednesday morning in Russell Square.

For those who don’t know who Wahl is, I suggest you look him up. He’s perhaps one of the most established senior writers at Sports Illustrated. He’s been a senior soccer writer for SI since 2000 and covers World Cups, the Euro Championships and the Olympic Games. His biography on SI.com says he’s written 31 cover stories for the magazine. And he has more than 230,000 followers on Twitter. Getting the chance to meet and talk sports journalism with him is something I couldn’t pass up.

After getting our coffees, Wahl and I sat at one of the tables and he asked me a few questions about myself. I explained to him what BSU at the Games is and what we’re doing, and he was impressed with what we’ve been able to produce despite not having credentials to events. I also got to tell Wahl what I do for the Ball State Daily News and other events I’ve covered in my short career.

But I was more interested in learning about how he got to SI. He said after his internship at The Miami Herald, he received an offer from SI to be a fact-checker. Having just graduated from college, he said it was too good an offer not to accept. After doing some writing on college basketball and soccer on the side, ESPN offered him a position to be a full-time soccer writer. SI matched the offer, and he’s held the position since then.

The best piece of advice he gave me for trying to land a job after I leave Ball State is to have something on a résumé that makes you stand out. He laughed and said my experience for BSU at the Games will be the thing that makes me stand out on mine.

We talked more on how sports is becoming a big player in social media, especially on Twitter, and his experiences covering some of the major soccer events in the world. The biggest thing he is working on at SI is making sure he is being as efficient as possible because of the costs to send him around the world.

We wrapped up our conversation after about an hour, as he had to get in touch with his bosses and prepare for the women’s soccer final. I left the Starbucks inspired to work my way to Wahl’s level. Being able to cover soccer matches around the world, on its biggest stages, would definitely be a dream job.

Having more than 230,000 followers on Twitter would be pretty cool too.

Mat Mikesell | Sports Reporter

@MatMikesell

An unexpected day

While in London, I never expected to go to Olympic Park or the Main Press Center. That changed when I was told I was picked to receive a guest credential pass. I would tour the center and walk around Olympic Park.

I left the flat early in the morning to meet up with our contact, Peggy Manter, that was getting me in. On my way from one tube to the other, I ran into my first problem of the day — the tube I needed was down, so I had to take a train to Olympic Park. Sounds easy, but it wasn’t the case. I only knew where to go through the tube stations and the stops made on the above ground train are not the same. So, now, I am someone who does not know London very well trying to get to Olympic Park. It was very frustrating until I finally asked for help from the people who work for the trains.

I finally arrived at the proper station and got off the crowded train. I walked through the crowd of people, making my way to the area where I would get our guest passes. After about six minutes of battling traffic I got to the proper place.  I walked in and received my pass without any problems. I headed to security where I was told I could not go any further without an escort. I spent the next hour frantically trying to get a hold of Peggy. It was the most frustrating part of the whole trip because we had no WiFi outside Olympic Park. Whose idea was that? WiFi outside the park would have made too much sense. So, I had to keep returning to the crowded mall, which was a three or four minute walk, which I had to do almost 100 times. Peggy finally emails me and said she will not pick us up but someone named Nikki would.

Nikki finally showed up about 30 minutes later and took me through the park. She was my ticket to get through security. She walked us through the park, stopping and letting me take pictures of all the amazingly big complexes. I wanted to go inside all of them and watch what was going on. I arrived at the Media Center and was told I could go to a press conference being held.

Snapping a picture with Jorge Posada, former New York Yankees catcher

I knew there was one with Team USA Track & Field, but didn’t know if I could get in. Finally, I get in and I get a big rush as I realize I am a journalist covering the Olympic Games. It was an amazing feeling, making me for sure know this is the career field I want to get into. I sat and listened while other journalist shot questions at the Olympians. It was an amazing experience as I gathered material to write my own stories. The press conference is the best and most enjoyable thing I have been to this whole Olympics.

After the press conference we went to the official Olympic store. It was full of people trying to find the perfect gifts. I found a T-shirt for my younger sister and I got my younger brother, who is about to get his drivers license, an Olympic key chain. As we made our way through the mall, a fellow BSU at the Games student spotted a former New York Yankees catcher, Jorge Posada. I am a huge Yankee fan, so I was star struck. I wanted to go get a picture with him didn’t want to bother him. After thinking it over, I was convinced to go and talk to him because what was the worst we could do? Say no and then we just keep on our merry way? So I walked up to him and shook his hand as I said I am a huge Yankees fan and he was one of my favorites. I then asked for a picture and he said he would. When he said yes I could not stop smiling.

I felt like I was on top of the world.

So, what started out as a rough morning of delayed tubes and not knowing who was coming to get me, ended with a great story to share with people and a picture with one of my favorite athletes.

Charlie Akers  |  Sports Reporter

@The8thKing

My work break at the Tower of London

Since the start of the Olympic Games, BSU at the Games has been working relentlessly. Don’t get me wrong—every long day and all-nighter has been more than worth it. But every now and then, our advisors tell us to take a day off just to be tourists in London.

Last Sunday, I did just that. Although I already had spent a weekend in London before the Games started as part of a study-abroad program, it was not nearly enough time to see everything I want to see. So I made my way over to the Tower of London with a few other students.

I wouldn’t usually consider myself a history buff, but since I’ve been in England, I’ve really come to appreciate history. Because America is such a young country, it’s hard for me to fathom how a castle that was founded in 1066 can still be standing.

Emily Thompson enjoys a break with one of the “locals” at the Tower of London

We literally could’ve spent the entire day at the Tower of London because there’s so much to see. Every building has a different exhibit, and some even have places to eat. Complete with a reenactment of thieves who once tried to steal the Crown Jewels, we had endless entertainment.

I think my favorite exhibit, aside from the Crown Jewels of course, was “Royal Beasts” because I learned so much. I had no idea that before London had a zoo, the royals kept exotic animals in the Tower of London. Between monkeys, elephants, lions and more, they had a full house.

There were also multiple exhibits about medieval torture that one of my friends really enjoyed. It was a bit morbid for me, but interesting nonetheless. I did enjoy the murder mysteries, though.

After leaving the Tower, I enjoyed a Ben and Jerry’s ice-cream cone, which was the perfect end to my day as a tourist. Even without the Olympic Games, there’s so much to do and see in London. It’s a truly beautiful city, and I’m thankful to be able to spend so much time in it—even if it does rain nearly everyday here.

Emily Thompson  |  Features Reporter

@ekthompson2410

Australian equestrian brings injured ankle—and Olympic dream—to Bloomington

By Bobby Ellis  |  BSU at the Games

Australian-born Peter Atkins has a big dream—to compete on the Australian Equestrian team during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Atkins in surgery.

Peter Atkins gives a picture of himself and his horse Henry—whom he hopes to ride in the Olympic Games—to doctor Matt Parmenter as appreciation for his work on his ankle. Photo by Bobby Ellis.

But as Atkins hobbled into the Southern Indiana Surgery Center in Bloomington on May 21, crutches under each arm, his right leg wrapped, he looked anything but an Olympic hopeful.

Atkins, 46, has been trying out for the Olympic Games since 1986 and this year qualified to compete in Three Day Eventing, a mix of dressage, cross-country and show jumping. His last obstacle was to qualify for the team, but tragedy struck on April 16. While working with his horse, Henry Jota Hampton, Atkins was injured in an accident, breaking his fibula and tibia in his right leg and damaging his right ankle after his horse spooked and fell on top of him.

Despite the severity of the injury, Atkins did not realize he was hurt until he saw his ankle flop to the side when he attempted to stand up.

“I just kept thinking one really bad word over and over and over,” Atkins said. “It was one of those quick-falling-backward falls where you couldn’t get off. I thought, ‘This is a stupid way to get hurt.’”

Atkins’ horse was unhurt in the fall but with Atkins injured, the pair was forced to scratch their team-qualifying event in England where they were set to fly to the next day. Atkins underwent surgery the same day as the accident but felt that his ankle wasn’t healing the way he wanted it to. That’s when his friend, anesthesiologist Beatrice Travis, recommended he talk to Dr. Matt Parmenter of the Southern Indiana Surgery Center in Bloomington.

“He was the first surgeon who believed me when I said I was going to ride in two weeks no matter what,” Atkins said of Parmenter.

Parmenter agreed to work on Atkins’ ankle pro bono since Atkins is not covered by American insurance and would not be able to afford the procedure on his own.

“He’s up against a wall,” Parmenter said when asked about the pro bono job. “I’m just hoping for a thank-you.”

The procedure Parmenter performed on Atkins was not a difficult one. Atkins was put under anesthesia and had bone marrow removed from his ankle with the help of a special needle. That bone marrow was then put into a center fuse and mixed with chemicals to draw out special stem cells from the marrow. Those stem cells were then injected back into Atkins’ ankle in an attempt to speed up the healing process.

“He’s our fourth case,” Parmenter said. “I think I can have him riding in three weeks.”

The surgery lasted about 40 minutes and went smoothly, with Atkins fast asleep and snoring

An X-ray shows Atkin's ankle after surgery.

under the anesthesia. Before going into surgery he gave his credit card to a nurse in the center and had her order lunch for the staff. Along with that, Dr. Parmenter received the thank-you he was looking for. After awakening from the procedure, Atkins gave the doctor a gift: a signed photograph of himself and Henry during a competition.

Atkins and Henry will be competing in the final qualifying event in Germany this month to attempt to make it onto the five-man Olympic squad. Despite the challenges, Atkins is optimistic about his recovery.

“I’ll enter that (the event) no matter what,” said Atkins. “Besides, the horse does all the work. All I have to do is stay on top and support what the horse is doing.”

As Atkins recovers from surgery, his horse Henry is currently overseas training for the event in Germany.

Dann Denny of The Bloomington Herald-Times contributed to this story

Bobby Ellis is a junior photojournalism major at Ball State University. Follow Bobby and the BSU team at @BobbyDEllis@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.