Posts tagged "Team GB"

Program gives Team GB’s future athletes a peek behind the curtain of Olympic Games

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

Being an athlete in the Olympic Games is more than just competing; it’s dealing with the publicity, the fame, the pressure and the distractions the Olympic atmosphere can bring.

To help ease future hopeful Olympians into the world of the Games, Great Britain has set up the British Olympic Ambition Program. It is giving 130 young British athletes and 57 coaches a chance to see what it’s like to be a part of the worldwide sporting event.

Phil Wood, coach for the Ambition Program, acts as mentor and support for the team and believes this program gives Britain an edge over other countries.

“Seventy percent of Olympians are better at their second Olympics, so hopefully these guys bring home medals their first time competing,” he said.

Yena Stadnik, female wrestler on the GB Ambition program, said she thinks the program has shown her what she can expect both mentally and physically.

“The workshops help me get a taste of everything,” Stadnik said. “I am treated like I am one of the athletes.”

Each athlete is selected by his or her specific sport’s National Governing Body. During the program, the members first go to a Preparation Camp at Loughborough University, where they get fitted for Team GB sports gear.

Eighteen-year-old indoor volleyball athlete Rupert Scott said he had to wear his gear for the two-and-a-half-day period he was in London for the program.

“I’m not even an Olympic athlete yet, and people still wanted to take pictures with me,” he said. “People were really interested.”

During the Olympic hopefuls’ stay in London, they got the chance to watch two Olympic competitions in person.

Sarah Winckless, 2004 bronze medalist in rowing and program director, said she organized each participant to be matched up to their sport (or one similar if they’re winter athletes) and another sport they didn’t know anything about.

“As an athlete, you often get wrapped up in your own sport, so instead of them living in their own sport it’s important to see how wide the Olympics are,” she said.

The participants also get to meet previous Olympians for some athlete-to-athlete learning because they speak the same language, Winckless said. She wished she had had the program before she competed because it shows that it’s OK to have bad days as an athlete.

“There’s a myth people think that the athletes on the podium have it easy, but they don’t. It’s hard work,” she said. “Medals aren’t won in a game, they’re won throughout the years.”

Winckless herself learned that lesson when she competed in her first Olympic Games after she had been injured. She knew she wasn’t in form to win any medals but just being apart of it inspired her to carry on and keep working hard. She wants to let new athletes know that it is determination that keeps you going, since most sports careers are short.

“I put on a brave face with the media and everyone,” she said. ”But I was living the dream, even if I wasn’t in form. It’s OK if you don’t win a medal right away, Everything you train for doesn’t change.”

Yena Stadnik said hearing stories like this have shown her not to give up, that there is a reason to carry on.

Preparation is something freestyle wrestler Craig McKenna learned about that he thought was most important.

“Preparation is key, even though the Olympic atmosphere is great,” McKenna said, “even if it means being anti-social for a while.”

Even if they don’t all make it to the Olympic Games, Rupert Scott said this experience has prepared him for any type of big game that he will be involved with in his life.

“There’s so much more than just competing. There are so many distractions that really test your limits,” he said. “This has really helped me. It shows me how much pressure competing in big games are.”

Katelynn Thys is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Katelynn and the BSU team at @skyismylimit_kt@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Team Great Britain claims first Olympic basketball win since 1948

By James Jeffrey  |  BSU at the Games

Team Great Britain huddles on the court during their recent game against China.

Team Great Britain achieved a first in nearly 60 years on an Olympic basketball court – it claimed a victory. Team Great Britain beat No. 10 China 90-58 for its first win in the Olympic Games since 1948.

“Finally got that Win. So thankful to be a part of this GB team and so fortunate to have had such great support throughout the games,” Kieron Achara said via Twitter following the game.

Achara led the team with 16 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Nate Reinking —who is retiring from international competition after the Games — scored 12 points and Team GB captain Drew Sullivan scored 11. Both Pops Mensa-Bonsu and Mike Lenzly were out due to injury.

Only two Chinese players managed to hit double figures. Zhi-Zhi finished with 11 points and five rebounds while YI Jianlian, China’s only NBA player, finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds.

China grabbed an early 7-0 lead by making its first three shots, but it was the only lead they would have in the game. Joel Freeland, recently signed by the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers, helped Britain breech the initial gap with a hook shot over Jianlian. This ignited GB who ended the first quarter with a 20-5 run to take a 27-15 into the second quarter.

Britain outscored China every quarter the rest of the game and was never closely threatened due to the defensive efforts by Drew Sullivan and Kieron Achara. Team GB point guard Andrew Lawrence also helped space the floor with strong ball movement to keep them ahead.

Despite being the home nation, GB basketball did not claim automatic qualification for the games like in most Olympic sports. International basketball federation FIBA had to clear the team before it could compete in the event. This included proving they could be competitive at the Olympic level – which they did by winning FIBA group B. FIBA also mandated Team FB have a lasting legacy for basketball.

“I laugh when people say we were given our spot here in the Olympics because it sure didn’t feel like it when we were trying to get up through Division B and qualify for Europe. We really achieved something here,” Team GB head coach Chris Finch told the BBC.

“Our performances here, while they didn’t necessarily come with the results we were hoping for, came with a lot of potential to keep building the programme,” Finch continued. “I think we have a bright future. We’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good step. We answered every challenge that was thrown at us, but we fell a little short on this one. But it was incredibly satisfying professionally and personally.”

Finch and multiple other players retired after the game, including 38-year-old shooting guard Nate Keinking of the British Basketball League’s Sheffield Sharks and former NBA center Robert Archibald.

Despite competing in the 1948 Olympics, Britain’s current program only started in 2006.

“Great day for GB basketball, let’s make it the start, not the end of the journey,” basketball commentator John Amechi said via Twitter.

James Jeffrey is a junior journalism major at the University of Worcester in Worcester, England. He is a part of a team of British students contributing to BSU at the Games. Follow James and the program on Twitter @bsuatthegames and Facebook.com/bsuatthegames.