Posts tagged "nastia luikin"

Media Summit yields more than 100 interviews

During the 2012 U.S. Olympic Media Summit, media members were split up into print and broadcast groups, as was our class.  I went to the broadcast side, where we would get Olympic athletes of all different kinds ushered in and out of our room over the three days. Unlike our partners on the print side, we were much more jammed for time. As opposed to bringing all of the writers to the athlete, they had to bring the athlete to the broadcasters.  This meant we had a time limit—six minutes—from when they walked in to when they walked out. This provided an incredible challenge. It usually took about a minute to get the athlete all wired up and get the cameras focused. All of a sudden we were down to five minutes.We shared the room with the Armed Forces Network and WebMD.  The AFN crew needed a personal message from the athlete to the troops and then for the athlete to do a station ID. This took about two minutes,  meaning we and the WebMD folks had a whopping three minutes, whether it was with a hopeful for the final spot on the gymnastics team or U.S. Soccer star Alex Morgan.This meant our questions had to be from the cream of the crop, and it was tough to get them to give us information. This also meant we had to be prepared.  We couldn’t simply ask questions to gather information about an athlete’s background. We had to know the background or else we would run out of time before we even had a chance for a quality question.On average we would get two questions from the athlete. Sometimes we lucked out and got three, other times only one, and occasionally if running late, we wouldn’t get a question at all.  There were about 50 broadcast media, and as you can imagine, “BSU at the Games” wasn’t a top priority (although the fact that we were a priority when ESPN, NBC and Sports Illustrated were within shouting distance was more than humbling).

A common question we would ask is, what does wearing the red, white and blue and representing your country mean to you?  It was incredible hearing all the different answers.  Responses ranged from “it’s pretty cool” and “it’s an honor” to having the athlete nearly in tears.

Often we were able to quickly research the athlete when they walked in the room and find an interesting angle for our story.

For example, Wallace Spearmon is the U.S.’s top runner in the 200 and has beaten Usain Bolt. But what we were able to dig up was that in 2008 he won a bronze medal only to moments later have it taken away due to being disqualified for stepping out of his lane.  As you can imagine, even four years later, he still is emotional about it.

We also found stories of a swimmer who had heart surgery and was forced to keep a defibrillator on site whenever she swam because doctors said her heart could give out at any time.

We heard stories of athletes growing up in poverty to make it, stories of athletes who were caught in drug scandals and have turned their lives around, stories of Paralympic athletes who lost limbs in the military and still compete at the highest levels of their sports.

It was an incredible process over the three days that saw us interview more than 100 athletes. Some personal highlights, of course, were the big names like Nastia Luikin, Maya Moore, Wallace Spearmon and, my personal favorite, Alex Morgan (guys reading won’t be asking follow-up questions as to why she was my favorite interview).

Coming to Dallas I was a bit apprehensive that I didn’t have enough material for London. Now we have so much material and so many story possibilities that we’re going to have to cut out some very good stories.

Be on the lookout for these interviews on the website.

Pat Boylan  |  Sports Reporter

@patboylanbsu

Thoughts from a plane over Dallas

So I waited to write this blog on the flight home for two reasons: 1) because these past six days for me have been so fast-paced I haven’t had time and 2) I honestly didn’t know what I would say, so I figured I’d use it as reflection. I’ll do my best to keep you guys entertained.

I first wanted to give a shout out to Pat, C.T., Brandon, Ryan, Emily (Thompson) and Emily (Barker) for somehow figuring out a way to make this flight in the first place with minutes to spare … Don’t ask.

I remember walking to class months ago when Ryan came up to me about the idea of traveling to London for the Olympic Games. If I said I wasn’t skeptical at first, well, I’d be lying. But after these past few days working alongside some of the top journalists in the country and speaking with some of the best athletes in the world, it’s safe to say I made the right decision to jump on board.

Being the only college students at the 2012 Team USA Media Summit, I assumed we wouldn’t get a fair chance. I assumed we would be shoved to the side and given limited access. Not the case—not even close. We had just as much of an opportunity to speak with the big athletes as anyone else, and we took full advantage of that.

As I registered, the lady behind the desk goes, “Oh, Ball State? We’ve heard about you guys.” We were respected. People knew who we were and we’d just arrived.

Perhaps the defining moment for all of us was the opening reception. There we were,  a bunch of college kids (plus C.T. and Ryan) sitting at a table as America’s top athletes strolled on by. Having athletes come up to me and say they loved my USA Diving piece on Thomas Finchum … nothing can beat that. Nothing.

Interviewing one of the world’s top boxers, Errol Spence, Jr., in the middle of a boxing ring in downtown Dallas, are you  kidding me? I’m just a college kid, I shouldn’t have these opportunities— but for whatever reason, I do. And amidst it all I never once took it for granted.  I’ll admit I may or may not have gotten flustered when Olympic Beijing gold medalist Nastia Luikin stepped into the room. That’s because, well … no comment.

I could go on forever. I could sit here 30,000 feet up and ramble on about this trip and go through every connection I made or every amazing athlete I came across, but I won’t because I don’t know how long blogs typically go and I feel like I’m near that limit.

BSU at the Games has a chance to do something special here. We have the chance to build our résumés and gain experience in ways other college students will only dream of. This is our chance to stand out from the rest of the  universities and show them what we do in sports media and journalism at Ball State.  Let’s embrace this opportunity and hold onto it. I know I am. See you guys in London.

2014 Russian Winter Games … Any takers? I’m down.

Josh Blessing  |  Sports Reporter

@joshjblessing