Posts tagged "London Games"

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

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

“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

A bunting obsession

Bunting: Most commonly seen as strings of triangular pieces of fabric, plastic, paper, etc. with patriotic colors and flags. It was originally made to serve as signal flags for the British Royal Navy.

When I first got to England I didn’t know what it was or even paid much attention to it. Every English town we’ve visited, large or small, is decorated with it. From houses in the countryside to London streets, you can’t escape it.  Walking around Worcester, it’s everywhere. Strung across buildings, hung over streets and wound around lampposts. At first, I thought it was to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee but the event passed and it stayed up. Then I assumed it was the Queen’s visit to Worcester to open the library or in honor of the Olympic Games, but the decorations haven’t moved.

Now I never want them too. I’m in love.

I don’t know if it’s the unique British history or the cheerful colors and designs, but bunting makes me wish I hadn’t spent a penny on anything else since I’ve been here. Doesn’t matter if it’s waving proudly in the wind or hanging limply on a rainy day, it never fails to brighten my mood.

At first I only wanted to buy it. I saw some in Bath made of fabric with embroidered union jacks and crowns, but I couldn’t afford it. Shops in Worcester have it zigzagging across their ceilings and it slowly breaks down my willpower to resist every time I look in.

Then I realized I could make my own and the possibilities were endless.  It can be sewn, knitted, or crocheted out of anything imaginable. I don’t think I’ll even make it home from the airport without a stop at Hobby Lobby to buy supplies.

Sarah Ellis | Designer

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

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

Quick hits from USA Men’s Basketball press conference

By Brandon Pope | BSU at the Games

The roster deadline

USA Basketball Chairman Jerry Colangelo confirmed the final 12-man roster for USA Men’s Basketball will be named on July 7, a day after the National Team holds its training camp in Las Vegas, Nev. The United States Olympic Committee extended the deadline after injuries eliminated four finalists from consideration.

“We know exactly where we want to be,” Colangelo said. “But we need to take inventory of what status our players have.”

Anthony Davis and James Harden added to Olympic roster

Colangelo confirmed the additions of University of Kentucky forward Anthony Davis and Oklahoma City Thunder guard James Harden to the 2012 Olympic Finalists roster. Head Coach Mike Krzyzewski thinks if Davis makes the cut he will bring a defensive presence to the team.

“Davis is a very unique player,” Krzyzewski  said. “He can help us defensively because of his shot-blocking ability. He doesn’t need the ball. We want someone who can run, and he’s an outstanding athlete.”

Davis’ promotion to the team is a bit controversial. The NCAA National Champion athlete has yet to play a game as a professional. He is projected to be taken No.1 overall in this year’s NBA Draft.

When asked about a potential new rule that would set a 23-and-under age limit for Olympic basketball competition after London, Colangelo dodged the question.

“There’s a time and place for that discussion,” Colangelo said.

If the rule were in effect now, it wouldn’t just be Davis who would miss the cut. Of the 18 remaining men’s basketball finalists, only seven would qualify.

“The big guys” 

Coach K said the biggest concern for Team USA in the 2012 Olympic Games would be “the big guys”.

“We’re not deep in that part of the pool,” Krzyzewski said.

The Americans will be thin inside with Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard and Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum missing the Games.

Howard had season-ending surgery on his back and won’t be ready for London. Bynum won’t be making the trip either, opting to have off-season knee surgery in Germany. It’s the same knee surgery his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant had last summer.

Spain

Team USA’s lack of a post presence could be exposed against Spain. The Spaniards are loaded inside with Pau Gasol of the Los Angeles Lakers and Marc Gasol of the Memphis Grizzlies. Oklahoma City Thunder forward Serge Ibaka will play a dynamic role off the bench.

“Spain would be a concern whether we had all of our big men,” Krzyzewski said. “But there are a lot of ways to play the game, and what we did in 2008 and ’10 is try to personalize what we do for the group we have. Hopefully, our personalization is better than theirs.”

Brandon Pope is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering fencing, volleyball and basketball for BSU at the Games. Follow Brandon and the BSU team at @bpopeizdope@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.