Sunday, July 29, 2012

Opening Ceremony

Emily and Kristi Yamaguchi
As a young girl I intensely watched every Olympic Games.  I remember watching the likes of Kristi Yamaguchi and Bonnie Blair in the winter games and of course the Magnificent Seven gymnast in the Atlanta summer games.  These women inspired my sister and I.  We would skate around in our socks on the hard wood floor and would complete our ‘triple axels’ and our ‘double loops.’  We created beam routines and attempted to emulate different skills each of the gymnasts completed.  Those two weeks every two years were some of the most inspiring for me as a young child. 

Emily and Bonnie Blair
I was a gymnast growing up and every year my gym would have an Olympic Festival where we would get the opportunity to walk in our own Opening Ceremony.  Each group was given a different nations flag.  We created our Olympic garb and represented our select countries as we followed our flag into the gym.  I remember always being somewhat disappointed that my group was never selected to carry the American flag, but was always excited to recreate our version of the Olympics.  Little did I know that close to a decade later I would finally have the opportunity to follow our flag in an actual Olympic Games Opening Ceremony.  As I watched the athletes walk on Friday in the London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony I could not help but remember all the emotions I felt over two years ago in Vancouver. 

Emily at the Vancouver Opening Ceremony
I often get asked what the experience was like and to be honest there are really no words to describe it.  The Olympic movement is something greater than the individuals involved and for me that was the first time I realized that I was a part of something bigger than me.  As I laid in bed after that night I tried to decompress from the excitement, but all that went through my head was ‘that was so worth it.’  Everything that happened up to that point for me was part of my path to the Olympic Games.  None of it was easy, but making an Olympic Team should not be easy.  That was the moment I decided that after Vancouver I would try to fight to earn one more chance to have that same experience

Over the next couple weeks I will be glued to the television watching these Olympic Games just like I did as a child.  Maybe I won’t skate around or complete any gymnastic moves, but I will watch and continue to be inspired by all the athletes fulfilling their dreams to compete in the Olympic Games.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Thank You Fire Fighters!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Colorado OTC comes to the rescue

The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado has been home to hundreds of athletes since its opening in 1978. In 1996 the city of Colorado Springs helped the Olympic Committee reposition to a location that was previously an Air Force Base.  The facility now provides housing and dining to over 500 athletes’, coaches and this week fire evacuees. Colorado Springs has been my off season home for the past 5 summers.  After arriving in 2008 I was overwhelmed by the generosity of not only the staff at the Olympic Training Center, but by the excitement of Olympic sports throughout the entire community.

This past week was a horrible one for the city and state I have grown to love.  We heard news of the Waldo Canyon fires this past weekend, but had no idea the devastation that was to come.  Throughout the next few days it seemed the city was living the worst case scenario.  Many people were and still are evacuated from their homes, and an estimated 346 homes have been destroyed by the blaze.  Fortunately, I have not been directly affected by the fire, expect for the smoke and haze that has been hovering in the Colorado Springs area.  I do, however, feel sadness for all the people, many of which I know who have lost homes and possessions.  I sit here at a loss.  I wish there was more I could do to help all those in Colorado Springs who have supported the Olympic movement and the Olympic Training Center. 

Conversely, I feel a sense of pride as I watch the Olympic Committee come to the rescue and house many of the families affected by the flames.  It amazed me that our Winter Sports High Performance Director had been evacuated out of his home, but was still at the Training Center making sure that all the athletes had masks to protect us from the air quality.  I was astounded by his level of commitment to make sure we were not only safe, but also able to train at a high level throughout the chaos.  For the most part, the Training Center’s mission statement has, for a brief time, shifted to helping the people of the community and employees of the Olympic Committee stay safe.  I am hoping the London Olympic Games, which are just around the corner will help to boost the spirits of the people in Colorado Springs as they begin to rebuild their lives.