Monday, August 13, 2012

On to Rio 2016...?

Despite all the fun and Games described in these blog posts, there are times when the thought of going to another Olympics is not an appealing one. Between the hour long bus rides, the 30 minute waits for the bus and having to go through airport-style security about five times a day, nothing is easy. All the cool sporting events I was able to see occurred at the end of a long day of work and getting to and from the venue was an ordeal. This was time that could be spent working, sleeping or eating.

That said, I wouldn't trade it for the world. The Closing Ceremony renewed my energy to stay in the Olympic movement for as long as it will have me, or at least another four years. The Closing was truly a party, which wasn't always the case with the tight security surrounding this Olympics. John Lennon and Freddie Mercury even made appearances. Surprisingly, Brazil's portion of the ceremony was one of the more subdued segments.

Right before the Closing, I was lucky enough to score a media ticket to the gold medal men's basketball final between USA and Spain. Until then, I had been sticking to the less popular sports because I didn't want to take a seat away from a reporter who's actually working the event. But I couldn't turn down this opportunity. The game was close and the crowd was into it, but Kevin Durant and Co. were too much for the Spaniards.

I leave on Tuesday, which gives me the rest of today to have some non-Olympic fun in London. I think I'll go for a bike ride.

Click HERE for my latest photos.
Click HERE for my latest press release.
Click HERE to see the Universal Sports interview I helped set up.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sprint to the Finish


London 2012 Round 2 starts Tuesday for me as the flatwater sprint canoe/kayak racing begins for Team USA. We have two kayakers. Carrie Johnson is a three-time Olympian who will affectively retire  after these Games to begin a four-year veterinary program at UC-Davis. The other, Tim Hornsby, is a first-timer whose girlfriend just finished 9th in the pole vault.

Since my last post, I have been able to watch tennis at Wimbledon, women's water polo, men's basketball, rowing and table tennis. It was the first time I had seen many of these sports live, but seeing tennis at the All-England Club was special. It's the closest I might ever get to experiencing Wimbledon. I watched the Bryan brothers advance in men's doubles and Serena Williams do the same in women's singles. Both would go on to win Gold later. I also sat on "Henman's Hill" to watch Federer v. Isner (USA).

In the lull between slalom and sprint canoe/kayak racing, I've been able to set up interviews with BBC World News and Universal Sports. The sprint canoe/kayak venue is even farther away than the slalom venue, and the races are in the morning, meaning I will have to leave my dorm at around 6am to get there in time. I'm not sure if I'll have any time for sightseeing, but if I do tops on my list of things to do are Tower of London and trying out London's bikeshare system. Somehow I never saw the Tower of London during my semester abroad in this city.

Click HERE for my latest photos.
Click HERE for my latest press release.
Click HERE to see the BBC interview.
Click HERE to read one of the stories I helped set up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

An Olympic Reunion


When I'm not out at the faraway canoe/kayak venues, I'm generally at the Main Press Centre in Olympic Park or at my dorm at the University of East London - Docklands Campus. Seems like everywhere I go I run into people I know - some I expected to see, others were a surprise. It was the first time for me to meet 5 of the 7 canoe/kayak Olympians, two coaches and one of my co-workers. Then there's the 11 other Young Reporters that I knew from our adventures in Singapore and Austria. Then there's the good folks at the U.S. Olympic Committee and the other U.S. press officers at other sports. To think it all started with an internship in 2009.

Sadly, all five U.S. slalom athletes were knocked out of competition in the qualifying rounds, many in heartbreaking fashion. After a very busy first two days of competition, I find myself with more free time than I'd care for. Still, I'm working to garner as much media attention as possible while I am in the same city as these athletes. The two U.S. sprint athletes begin competing next Tuesday.

Yesterday, I was able to venture out into Central London for the first time. Olympic Park is in a part of East London that no tourist would have gone to before now. I was glad to finally see the London I knew from my study abroad experience in 2008. I was able to catch some beach volleyball near 10 Downey Street, where the Prime Minister lives. As I write this, I'm sitting in the press area watching Argentina take on Pakistan in field hockey. If I get a full day off, I'm thinking of going out to Wimbledon to watch some Olympic tennis.

Click HERE for some photos. More photos.
Click HERE to read one of my event recaps.
Click HERE to read one of the interviews I helped set up.
Click HERE to watch kayaker Caroline Queen's final run.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Let the Games Begin



The Opening Ceremony was great. It wasn’t overwhelming and over-stimulating as some of these events can be. It was relatively understated.

It started off with a flyover and a bit of rain. The clouds subsided and the fake English country side that was created in the center of the stadium gave way to a long drum-heavy journey through the nation’s industrial age. It told a story without ever using words. Then came a bizarre dream sequence from JK Rowling. Mr. Bean’s bit was funny, but I’m not sure it did justice to the very Olympic film tune "Chariots of Fire". The run through on British music could have been cut in half, because for every Rolling Stones, there’s a Prodigy, or worse. But I loved the choice to play Pink Floyd during the big firework finale and David Bowie’s “We Can Be Heroes” as the British team concluded the parade of Olympians. Paul McCartney’s performance of “Hey Jude” was very good. I can now say I’ve seen a Beatle live.

My canoe/kayakers start racing on Sunday, so it's the last bit of quiet before the storm. Go USA!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This is a Picadilly service to...

"This a Picadilly service to Cockfosters."

That's the first thing you hear after jumping in the Tube from Heathrow Airport. Not exactly the most regal introduction.

For me it's a reintroduction. I studied abroad in London in the Spring of 2008. I wasn't sure when I'd be able to return and I didn't think it would be for the 2012 Olympics.

I was able to sleep on the plane, which is good considering I arrived at 830am GMT and have lots to do today. I am without Internet or cell service as I write this. I took the Tube across town to my dorm and now I'm waiting to be checked in. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jumping in Headfirst

I'm waiting at my terminal at Dallas-Fort Worth airport, pecking away on my phone. In about 25 hours I will be hosting my first press conference, jetlag be damned. Things are about to get real hectic. Here goes nothing...

The US CanoeKayak Team starts competing on Sunday. Surprisingly, NBC will be covering much of it live on their main channel. Check nbcolympics.com for a full schedule. The Opening Ceremony is Friday. I'm hoping to snag a ticket.

Visit usack.org to see the media guide I put together.

Friday, July 13, 2012

London Calling


13 days. Less than two weeks to go until the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games. I've been fortunate enough to experience Olympic Games of varying sizes. But this one should take the cake, or biscuit, or whatever they eat in England. The Games will mark my return to London after I spent a semester abroad there in Spring 2008. It will mark the culmination of two years of covering canoe/kayak for the U.S., after reporting on dozens of events from my couch and one from the actual venue. It will be the first time I meet five of the seven 2012 Olympic paddlers, whose names I've written about a thousand times.

I'll be staying in a dorm room at the University of East London campus in the Docklands. The industrial area of town adjacent to the Canary Wharf business district has been transformed into an Olympic wonderland for the Games. But I won't be spending much time there. Each morning I'll make the long commute to the faraway canoe/kayak venues. The first week is whitewater slalom racing at the brand new Lee Valley Whitewater Center in Broxbourne, just north of London. After that is flatwater sprint racing at the historic Eton Dorney venue near Windsor Castle, just west of London. I'm hoping to have one day off in between the two events, so that I may experience some other Olympic sports. I'm thinking tennis at Wimbledon or beach volleyball near Buckingham Palace or table tennis.

What sport do you think I should try to see on my day off?

Click HERE to read a feature on 2012 U.S. Olympic sprint team coach Stein Jorgensen.

Follow my adventure on Twitter @nickolivier and @usacanoekayak.