Posts tagged "Olympic Events"

What’s a race walk? The story behind obscure Olympic sports

By Jessica Pettengill  |  BSU at the Games

With many of the most famous Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps and Gabby Douglas having collected their gold medals, the Olympic Games could seem all but over to some.

But many of the lesser known Olympic events occur in the last two days. Race walking and half of the modern pentathlon were scheduled for today and tomorrow. Even if the coverage is minimal, what is it about these sports that keep fans coming back for more?

“It’s just hilarious to watch them,” Jennifer Hearn of London said, a spectator at the women’s race walk. “Hilarious but awesome. I would never be able to do this.”

The liquid-like fluidity of the racers’ strides and the incessant pumping of their arms allow the top contending racewalkers to reach speeds of almost 9 miles per hour.

“Sometimes I don’t know how some sports get into the Olympics,” Hearn added.

Many spectators were unaware of some of the lesser-known sports like modern pentathlon. It is one of the most eclectic events at the Olympic Games. It requires its athletes to compete in fencing, swimming, equestrian riding and a combined event of running and archery.

After researching the event on his iPhone, fellow women’s marathon bystander Nathan Moore said, “How do people even get into these kinds of [sports]?”

Many of these obscure sports have only been included in the Olympic Games for a fraction of what the more popular events have been. The most recently added were BMX, in 2008, and women’s wrestling, the newest addition to the 2012 Olympic Games. Conversely, baseball and softball were the most recently removed sports from the Olympic lineup after the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

The Olympic Programme Commission (OPC) has official say over which 26 sports fill the Olympic venues each year. Golf and rugby have been approved for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Jacques Rogge entrusted the Olympic Programme Commission with the mission to define… a process for reviewing the Olympic programme,” wrote the IOC in a detailed fact sheet released to explain the many changes occurring to the Olympic Games.

“Might as well throw in skateboarding while you’re at it,” Moore said. “Add something that will entertain everyone.”

“Roller sports” actually was one of the sports considered to add to the 2012 Olympic Games. It didn’t get the 2/3 final vote needed, but it could be a strong possibility in a future Olympic venue. The criteria the OPC reviews sports on depends on history and tradition, universality, popularity, image, athletes’ health, development of the International Federations and cost.

“I’d like to watch jump roping or waterskiing or something completely weird,” Hearn said.

Perhaps future Olympic Games will continue to see the addition of “weirder” sports.

Jessica Pettengill is a junior magazine journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Jessica and the BSU team at @jmpetty10@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Daily Video: Sam Hazewinkel | USA Wrestling

BSU at the Games continues its daily video series introducing you to athletes from Team USA. Today, meet USA Wrestling’s Sam Hazewinkel prior to a recent practice in London for the Olympic Games. Hazewinkel competes Friday.

Sam Hazewinkel – USA Wrestling

Daily Video: Update from London

BSU at the Games provides this update on events to watch in the closing days of the Olympic Games. Featuring USA Track & Field’s Wallace Spearmon and USA Swimming’s Alex Meyer.

Update from London

Daily Video: Under the water with U.S. Synchro

Above the water, their routine is simple. Under the water, Mary Killman and Mariya Koroleva would say differently. BSU at the Games takes you “behind the scenes” with Team USA’s only two synchro athletes at the Olympic Games.

Under the water with U.S. Synchro

Chasm between sports cultures

Sports culture differs vastly depending on the sport, team or region, but watching abroad seems like a paradigm shift. Fanaticism in America amounts to Red Sox and Yankees fans hating each other, painting faces, decorating rooms for college football game days and tailgating in parking lots. The media and venues drive much of the fanaticism in the United States, with ESPN constantly reporting on the Miami Heat and stadiums’ P.A. systems encouraging the crowds to collectively chant specific phrases.

I’ve noticed things are radically different in England. Attending the USA women’s soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester drastically changed my outlook on British sports. The venue offered nostalgia for old stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway. Temporary video boards light up the corners of the stadium for spectators to watch the game unfold. As soon as the match started I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

The only P.A. announcements after the national anthems were for the four substitutions in the match. Not a single promotion. Not a single pump-up chant. No music. No organist. No fun.

The communal atmosphere of collective cheers and chants disappeared, in their place sporadic and short USA chants. The British arena didn’t accommodate the American crowd.

When English Premier League’s Manchester United plays, Old Trafford is a different atmosphere, with constant chants and songs from the crowd. Football requires some form of audience entertainment during slow periods of play. The American crowd hadn’t been together years and years to learn team songs or chants. As a member of the crowd, I wanted an organist, similar to baseball games, to play “Charge,” “Defense” or even “Olé Olé” to build a better atmosphere in the crowd.

A silent baseball game best describes the atmosphere. Every fan remained seated except when a team attacked the net. Most of the crowd noise consisted of murmurs from conversation.

Maybe if the venue allowed alcohol into the stands the atmosphere would have changed the feeling. Alcohol is only permitted on the concourse. There are no beer-men or carts around the stadium. What fan wants to go drink hidden from the action during a match? This caused a mass exodus during halftime of the crowd disappearing into the bowels of the stadium for a drink or two.

The game was fun, don’t get me wrong, but the chasm between crowd and players widened more than I have ever witnessed as a sports fan. Without audience participation, the match wasn’t worth the extorted prices LOCOG and the IOC charge. I love England’s culture and atmosphere, but the presentation of sport is deeply disappointing for a nation so rich in sports heritage. Or I should be sure to come back when United plays.

Alex Kartman  |  Adviser

@ajkartman

Daily Video: The Errol Spence Jr. Story

His journey began inside a run-down boxing gym in southern Dallas. Now the No. 1 U.S. welterweight boxer, Errol Spence Jr., finds himself fighting for a medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The Errol Spence Jr. Story

My Olympic moment: a long wait, the rings and … wow

As I walked out of Westfield Shopping Centre near the grounds of Olympic Park, I was awestruck by the view.

The biggest set of Olympic rings I’d ever seen were right in front of me, plastered on the northeast wall of the Aquatics Centre.

There were countless fences and security tents to get through before I reached the massive building, but the sheer size of it made it look close enough to touch.

Unfortunately, the whole scene was just a tease for two and a half hours because I was denied access with my guest pass.

The whole park was on lockdown, but when I was finally escorted through, all the frustration became worth the wait.

Every direction I looked, there were thousands upon thousands of people walking around the venues and fighting their way into shops. It was the never-ending madhouse that usually gets me annoyed and angry, but this time it was different. The row of stadiums made me feel like I was at the heart of Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago sports all at once.

It was then I had my first real moment of disbelief—these were the Olympic Games and I was actually there.

Connor Hockett  |  Sports Reporter

Daily Video: Lance Brooks | USA Track & Field

BSU at the Games continues its daily video series introducing you to members of Team USA. Today, meet USA Track & Field’s Lance Brooks who didn’t begin his career as a discus thrower.

Lance Brooks – USA Track & Field 

Videographer Taylor Bussick tells all

Taylor Bussick  |  Videographer

@tbussick

25 minutes for 5 quid—money well spent

After a confusing and frustrating run-around by the Olympic staff, I was finally about to see a field-hockey game in one of the arenas.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do today when I woke up. I knew a couple of the other reporters wanted to go to the Olympic Park to check out the media press center and wander around to find stories. I couldn’t wait to walk around though, so I broke off from the group to find my own adventure.

This is how I ended up at the recycle ticket sales booth. I saw a line and someone saying that the second session of field hockey was going to be easy to get into for people who didn’t have tickets. For me it was the only way I was going to get tickets, since I was not a U.K. citizen.

For this opportunity I paid a hefty price. It was an hour-and-a-half wait in the line to get to the end. By the time I paid my 5 quid, it was already 4:45 p.m. and I had only eaten a muffin all day. But I had my ticket.

I then sprinted to Riverbank Arena to catch the end of the match. Luckily I got there for the last 25 minutes of it. It was a good amount of time for the money I spent, the teams that were in the match (Germany and South Africa) and just the atmosphere of an arena in Olympic Park.

The 25 minutes I saw was enough to experience what everyone else probably was feeling that whole time. Even though Germany was already winning, there were close shots that looked promising for South Africa to come back, and even shots where Germany could have further divided the final score. People were still on the edge of their seats.

Putting aside the frustration and the long wait, I participated in a crowd wave that made it around the arena twice. It was an awesome day.

Michael Kerkhoff  |  Sports Reporter