Faster, higher, stronger and bigger

Grasping the size and scope and even the feel of the Olympics is hard to do, Jeremy Brown (’94,’96M) writes from London. He’s guest blogging this week from the 2012 Olympiad. From his vantage — up close and personal — Jeremy shares his perspective and gives us a glimpse into the size and complexity of these world games.

Bigger and better than you can imagine

by Jeremy Brown (’96), guest blogger

London’s velodrome (a cycling venue) is surrounded by gardens, a nod to London’s environmental efforts.

Time moves faster at the Olympic Games. It has to. How else could so much happen in such a short span of time. Over 300 world class sporting events in just over two weeks! The millions of visitors to London for the Games are approaching the mid-point of the celebration. Before I attended my first Olympics, I had a pretty good idea of how it all worked. This was based on the years of viewing coverage on TV and a visit to Atlanta during the ’96 Summer Games. Being present to view things allows a new vantage that NBC just doesn’t give you in the packaged presentation. I thought I might share some observations from the front lines of the whirlwind of sport….

There are literally hundreds of people involved with operating and staffing each spot of action. This includes the fields of competitive venues, the security queues, the ticket gates, the merchandising crews, the safety staffs, transportation, and many more. You quickly realize just how massive this undertaking really is. So much going on at the same time all over the city could make your head spin. For those of you in the D.C. area, imagine if the Nationals were in the World Series hosting a home game — at the same time the Redskins were playing the Cowboys. Then throw in a sellout soccer crowd at RFK stadium for a D.C. United match, a major concert at George Mason University, and Fourth-of-July-size tourist crowds on the mall. Add a couple of presidential motorcades crossing town and you begin to get an idea of the efforts needed to make it all roll so smoothly.

U.S. silver medalist, swimmer Brendan Hanson, shares his medal with a young fan outside the Today show.

To make it all happen, there are volunteers to do everything. You might not guess some of the necessary jobs. Of course there are ticket takers, policemen and those manning the information booths. Did you know there were people set to stand throughout town marking the travel path for every single event? These volunteers wear giant pink pointing fingers and greet each visitor with a spirited “Hello” and directions of where to go. We encountered a volunteer who had the job of politely keeping people from cutting through a flower bed to get to the rings display. There were workers just to clean up spectator vomit from the grounds, fern collectors, flag folders, medal holders and photo takers. There really is someone assigned for every imaginable task.

Grounds crews rush to change things for the next group in the equestrian venue at Greenwich.

And all this with the world watching. Media coverage is not just biased for the home team in the US. The BBC coverage has certainly been different than NBC. Typically British, it focuses on the missed opportunities almost more than the success. We can almost predict each day what will dominate the highlights each night. Cavendish missing a medal — apologies all night. Just missing the medals in synchronized diving — count on seeing that dive 100 times. If they win you get the success story and they add it to the giant medal board on the set. They do try to give an overview of the results from events featuring some interesting points on other competitors.

In the end, though, true sport prevails. Regardless of results, the athletes and the crowds are there for the contest and give it their all. (Chinese badminton team the exception) The efforts of the jumper who placed 22nd at Equestrian was cheered loudly

Traveling friends (l-r): Jeremy Brown (’94,’96M), Jennifer Philips Bost (’97), Liz Hadley (’98,’04M), Jimmy Bost (’97)

by the British crowd of 25,000. They were there to support their team efforts but cheered for all. When the home team just missed the gold medal, they didn’t boo the victorious German team, they yelled and cheered to celebrate their success. It’s about the effort and the competition. The Olympic spirit is alive and you can feel it in the air.

The most noticeable difference being at the venue and not sitting on the couch is that spirit. It’s a connection with others that is difficult to put to words. The fans and the athletes seem to wish to live to the Olympic Motto: Citius, Altius, Fortius (Faster, Higher, Stronger).


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

One Response to Faster, higher, stronger and bigger

  1. Tamara says:

    Very happy to get your perspective. Thanks!


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