Posts tagged "St. Louis"

Young swimmer’s in it for the experience—if not a chance at his dream

By Tyler Poslosky  |  BSU at the Games

While most high school kids are spending time with family and friends or simply relaxing over their summer break, Nick Orf is preparing for the biggest opportunity of his life.

The 17-year-old soon-to-be senior at Parkway Central High School in St. Louis, Mo., has been a member of Parkway Swim Club for three years and will be vying for a spot on Team USA at the Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb., June 25-July 2.

Swimming competitively is both taxing and burdensome at times, and Orf has virtually no free time.

“I’ve been doing some pretty rigorous workouts, sometimes eight to nine practices a week,” he said.

But he doesn’t mind, he said—as long as he can keep competing.

Orf, who qualified for the Olympic Trials in August 2011 for the 200-meter butterfly, swam against 14-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps at the Ohio State Grand Prix last March.

With Phelps only a few lanes away from him, Orf said it was a relief to know everyone wasn’t monitoring his every move.

“It was nice to know that everybody else wouldn’t be watching me, that’s for sure,” Orf said. “They were all cheering for Michael Phelps and nobody had any idea who I was. It was pretty cool being able to race in the same pool as him. Just really exhilarating.”

The odds of Orf making it to London are slim, mainly due to his age and lack of experience, but Orf doesn’t mind being an underdog.

“It’s just really cool to be able to go,” he said. “It’ll be especially cool if I make the finals or semi-finals. I don’t expect to go, but it’s pretty awesome to have the chance to be able to [go] and to see all the other swimmers who end up making it. It’s good to watch.

“It’s mostly the experience for me because I’m hoping to make it in four years from now in 2016 when I’m [done] with college and I’ll have a lot more training under my belt. Hopefully, I’ll drop my time to get to that point where I might be able to make the team.”

Tyler Poslosky is a senior telecommunications and journalism news major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Tyler and the BSU team at @bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Get a behind-the-scenes look as U.S. gymnasts prep for the Visa Championships

By Emily Barker  |  BSU at the Games

Watch this video for a behind-the-scenes look at the best U.S. gymnasts on the road to London at the Visa Championship podium training the day before the women’s competition began. Podium training is an official practice session before the start of a gymnastics competition during which gymnasts have a chance to do their routines on the competition equipment and in the competition arena.

The Visa Championship was the last stop for U.S. gymnasts before the Olympic trials began. After this two-day St. Louis competition—which ended June 10—approximately 15 men and 20 women were chosen to move on to the Olympic Trials. From there, only five men and five women will claim a spot on the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team for London 2012.

Information provided by Team USA.

Emily Barker is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Emily and the BSU team @EmPBarker@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

 

A journey through balance beams, bars and media row

My classmates and I won’t be landing in London to cover the 2012 Games for another 46 days, but our work behind the scenes is already well underway. Another chapter in our preparation for the London Games will take place this week as we visit the Visa Championships at Chaifetz Arena at Saint Louis University.

Seeing that I’m from St. Louis, Chaifetz Arena is just a short drive down I-64. Having this fantastic opportunity is beyond what words can describe.

The Visa Championships will feature men’s and women’s gymnastics, with gymnasts in both the junior and senior divisions. This week-long event will determine the U.S. champions, as well as which gymnasts advance to the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, which are scheduled for June 28 through July 1 in San Jose, Calif.

This year’s event marks the second time the Visa Championships have been held in St. Louis; the last time was in 2000.

Today is media day, with multiple training sessions open to reporters as well as opportunities to interview the gymnasts prior to competition, which begins Thursday and concludes on Sunday.

As I sit alongside the balance beams and bars sifting through the profiles of all these remarkable athletes, I take a minute to reflect on what I’m doing and how I got here. I’m within a few feet of these athletes who could be heading to London to compete for a gold medal. These are the best gymnasts this country has to offer. How cool is that? I’m most looking forward to having the opportunity to interview a few of these athletes and write about them.

One gymnast that caught my attention is Brenna Dowell of Odessa, Mo. Dowell is a member of Great American Gymn. Express and has been on the women’s national team for one year. Dowell brings a hefty résumé into the Visa Championships. She tied for fifth in vault, placed sixth in the all-around, uneven bars and came in eighth in the floor exercise in the junior division during the 2011 Visa Championships in St. Paul, Minn. Dowell tied for third in vault and placed fifth in the all-around and uneven bars in the 2011 CoverGirl Classic in Chicago. She also competed in the 2010 Visa Championships in Hartford, Conn., placing fourth in the uneven bars in the junior division. In 2009, she tied for first in the vault and tied for second in the all-around free exercise during the Women’s Junior Olympic Level 10 National Championships.

Another athlete that caught my eye is Sarah Finnegan, a native of St. Louis. Finnegan, also a member of Great American Gymn. Express, will compete in the women’s artistic program. Finnegan placed second in the free exercise during the 2012 Secret U.S. Classic in Chicago. She also finished third in the all-around junior division during the 2011 Visa Championships in Saint Paul, Minn.

So as I continue to sit along media row, I ponder the possibilities of what I can accomplish on this day, the interviews I can conduct, the precious stories I can write and I can’t forget about the athletes, who’s stories are so remarkable. From just skimming the roster, I’ve noticed a pair of athletes from my home state, which is awesome. Having the opportunity to go to the U.S. Olympic Trials by winning the Visa Championships in your home state has to be exciting.

After all, the Visa Championships are in my own backyard and I’m looking forward to taking full advantage of every interview I get, story I write and connection I make.

Tyler Poslosky  |   Sports Reporter


Tumbling down memory lane

Today I made the trip to St. Louis, Mo., with USA Gymnastics for the Visa Championships. It is such a great opportunity, and I am looking forward to all that is to come over the course of my trip. I was presented with this opportunity while in Dallas for the Team USA Media Summit. Many thanks go out to Chris Taylor, for it was his connections with the media that made it possible for me to be here, and I am extremely grateful.

For the next week, I will be doing video work for USA Gymnastics. This includes conducting interviews as well as videoing routines during the women’s junior competition and the men’s first day of competition. As Chris put it, I am in my element.

Many people do not know about my past with gymnastics, but for 16 years I ate, drank and slept the sport. I was never at the level of the athletes competing this weekend, but I have always heavily followed USA Gymnastics, and it is special to me that I get to be part of the action at this year’s Visa Championships.

In 2005, the Visa Championships were held in Indianapolis. I remember watching from the stands and hoping that one day I would get the chance to be a part of this event, even if I was not competing. Seven years later, here I am.

Monday and Tuesday are registration days for the athletes. Competition begins on Thursday and will continue through Sunday. This is the last stop for gymnasts before the Olympic Trials on July 1, where the team for London will be selected.

Emily Barker |  Sports Reporter
@EmPBarker