Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I made it to the Olympics!

Attending the London 2012 Olympics was fantastic.  Better than I ever could have expected.  The symbolism of countries joining together in friendly competition opens up fans from nations all over the world to just the right amount of patriotism and lots of conversations about our different nations characteristics.  Its hard to explain why it felt so different, but somehow we were from our countries and eager to understand each other beyond rote politics.

People made me proud to be from the USA, because our athletes have a reputation as being so nice and always willing to stop for an autograph or photo. They showed off the best of American traits: friendliness and openness.  Also many athletes train in the US, because we have funding to subsidize facilities.  This meant I met athletes from other countries who were grateful for the opportunities my country offers.

For me a normal trip to Europe means that I try to suppress my Americanness as much as possible so I don't get the European anti-American wrath.  This time I proudly wore a USA hat and a flag sticker all over London because it was a conversation starter. London felt like a big party and we were all happy to be there representing our countries.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Photos from the London 2012 Olympics

I headed to the London Olympics to represent Team USA and meet others from all over the world

Meeting the Olympic Athletes

Gold Winning German Rowers
My favorite part of the Olympics so far has been meeting the athletes. One night I stumbled upon the door out of Athletes Village. Here most of the athletes come and go from public transit and the big mall that is an integral part of the Olympic Village. A swarming group of fans, autograph collectors, professional photographers, who try to get portraits of all the athletes, all whirl around trying to get pictures and a few friendly words.
Gold Winning British Long Jumper Greg Rutherford

For the athletes who enjoy it, this is their moment to be a star. No one cares what country or sport, they just worship equally. It's a complete international experience. It's also fun to see up close all the body types. Tall basketball players and rowers, tiny gymnasts, muscular shot put players, boxers with gnarly ears...
Gold winning USA Wrestler Jake Varner
As an American, a really nice part is many people have said the Team USA folks are the friendliest, taking time to talk to everyone. This isn't so for everyone. Somehow the Cubans, from the friendliest country I've ever been to, ignore everyone and run through the crowd. I wonder about the geopolitics of it all. Could it be that they are not allowed to talk to the outside world? I certainly haven't seen any North Koreans.