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.