The Armless Archer

Matt Stutzman won a silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, broke the Guinness World Record for longest archery shot (230 yards or approximately two football fields), and  then broke his own world record at 310 yards. He is ranked the eleventh best archer in the world and is called the Armless Archer because he has accomplished everything without arms.

I was lucky enough to interview him about the upcoming Rio Paralympics, London 2012, and his family!

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The Olympics of Blogs: What are you most excited for in Rio?

Matt: I am most excited about the opportunity of competing in my second games and for another shot at a Gold Medal.

The Olympics of Blogs: Why did you choose archery as your sport?

Matt: I chose archery because it is the only sport that doesn’t stereotype against any athlete. Anyone can pick up a bow and be the best in the world at it with enough practice.

The Olympics of Blogs: What has been your favorite moment at a competition?

Matt: My favorite moment in a competition was back in 2014 when I competed at indoor nationals, which is the largest competition in the US. I became the first person with a physical disability to shoot a perfect score, I did not miss any points. I was one of only eight athletes to do so.

The Olympics of Blogs: What has been your proudest moment as an athlete?

Matt: My proudest moment as an athlete was representing Team USA in the 2012 London Paralympic Games and being part of something bigger than myself.

matt-stutzman-article.jpgThe Olympics of Blogs: Have you ever thought about competing in the Olympics and the Paralympics as some athletes have done? Would you do it? 

Matt: I would compete in the Olympic Games, but as of right now they don’t allow the use of compound bows, which is what I shoot. Until the they allow compound in the Olympic Games, I will compete in the Paralympic Games.

The Olympics of Blogs: What were you thinking as you stood on the podium after you won silver at the 2012 Paralympics?

Matt: I thought about where I had left my gloves…. lol. But in all seriousness, I just thought about how proud I was to represent the United States of America.

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The Olympics of Blogs: What inspires you?

Matt: My family inspires me because they look up to me and I want to show my boys that with hard work, you can overcome anything.

The Olympics of Blogs: Is it difficult to balance training for the Paralympics and having a family?

Matt: Yes, it is difficult. I have to budget my time wisely and have a good dose of family mixed in with training.

Comparing the Paralympics to the Special Olympics

I used to confuse the Paralympics and Special Olympics before I started volunteering and working at Special Olympics, so for this blog post, I decided to make a list of the differences between the two that I’ve noticed and learned so far.

The International Olympic Committee (which is in charge of the Olympics), the International Paralympic Committee (which is in charge of the Paralympics), and Special Olympics International (which is in charge of the Special Olympics World Games) complement each other, but there are definite differences between each of them. I am going to focus on the differences between the Paralympics and Special Olympics because these are more easily confused.

Here are the main differences between the two:

  1. The Athletes: The Paralympics welcomes athletes from six main disability categories: amputees, cerebral palsy, intellectual disabilities, visually impaired, spinal injuries, and Les Autres (French for “the others,” a category that catches all of the disabilities that do not fall into the other categories). Special Olympics allows anyone with intellectual disabilities over the age of eight to compete.
  2. Ability LevelParalympic athletes are very similar to Olympic athletes. They are elite athletes and must qualify to participate based on score, time, or other standardsSpecial Olympic athletes have many different ability levels, and athletes of any ability are allowed to compete.
  3. Competition Times: The Paralympics happen every two years and are held about ten days after the Olympics in the same venues as the Olympic Games. Special Olympics holds competitions year round, and athletes can compete regionally, statewide, nationally, and internationally.

Even though they are different, they work toward the same goal. Special Olympics International Chairman Tim Shriver explained it as, “We are both trying to use the power of sport to change the way the world sees people who have differences.” Athletes from the Paralympics and Special Olympics show the world that it doesn’t matter what disabilities, abilities, or differences athletes have. The important things aren’t physical. It’s more about how how hard they work to achieve greatness, how committed they are, and how much heart they have. Even though they are different, every pillar of the Olympic Movement inspires me and many other people every day.

Here is the video of Paralympian Matt Stutzman that inspired this whole post:

And, if you are feeling as though you need more inspiration, here is a video of Special Olympians at the 2015 World Games:

Thanks for reading and watching! 😀

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83 days until the Rio 2016 Olympics! (78 days until I go! You can still support my GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/carolynroadtorio)

3 months and 24 days until the Rio 2016 Paralympics!

87 More Days to the Olympics!

It’s so close now, and I’m even more excited because I received my invitation to volunteer over the weekend.

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I will be working Press Operations, which means I’ll be at the center of everything! My job description is to provide official operational information to clients, prepare documents and signs, distribute press kits, certificates and medals, and provide translation and support services for lost and found operations. I can’t wait to volunteer!

Yesterday, I also bought a ticket to the Closing Ceremony. The Opening Ceremony tickets went so fast at the very beginning of the process, so I was extremely surprised to see Closing Ceremony tickets still available. Going to the Closing Ceremony will be awesome for so many reasons, but especially because I’ll get to see Rio 2016 pass on the Games to Tokyo for 2020!

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Here is a photo from when London 2012 passed the Games to Rio 2016 during the Closing Ceremony.

My GoFundMe is still going strong! I have reached the 25% mark, which is absolutely amazing! Thank you so much to everyone who has donated and who is following along on my journey. I definitely couldn’t do it without you.

Here is the link (https://www.gofundme.com/carolynroadtorio) to my page if you are interested in how I’m doing. 😀

I’m almost done with school, so I will be doing a lot of catch up on events with this blog soon. Keep an eye out for them!

100 Days to the Olympics!

Only 100 days to the Olympics! That’s really only a little more than 3 months… Wow! When I started this whole process of applying to volunteer during the Olympics, it was 2014 (2 YEARS AGO!), and now it’s only 3 more months! I am so excited!

I still don’t have my volunteer placement yet. The new date on when they’ll have all of the volunteer placements assigned is May 31, which is very close to the Games! However, I have completed the available training on the Volunteer Portal so far. I’m ready!

Because the Olympics are so soon, I started a gofundme page a week ago to help me cover the cost of going to them. I’m so thankful for everyone who has donated and shared it so far! Here is the link to the page: https://www.gofundme.com/carolynroadtorio. Anything you are able to give helps! Even sharing it on social media goes a long way! Going to the Olympics in a little more than 3 months will be a dream come true. Thank you everyone for your support!

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Today is the Road to Rio 100 Days Celebration in Times Square, and as soon as my class gets out at 2:45 pm, I’m sprinting over to Times Square to celebrate! I will write a blog post about it in the coming week! 🙂100days.PNG

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151 Days to Rio! (Road to Rio Update)

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Here’s my Rio update! I’m still on the Road to Rio, and the final destination is getting closer every day! Only 151 days to go! Here is where I am in my preparations:

Housing:

I booked my housing Saturday on airbnb. Even though I’m still a little nervous about using airbnb, I think it has security measures in place to deal with all of my worries. I’m renting a room in a house in Recreio dos Bandeirantes (which is near Barra da Tijuca, where the Olympic Village and most of my events are located).

Where I’ll Be Volunteering:

I still don’t know. 😦

Volunteer Meetup:

I met other volunteers who are going to Rio and who live in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania on Sunday, February 28. We met at a restaurant called Vonda’s Kitchen in Newark, NJ. After some trouble trying to get to the location, I finally made it, and it was amazing! Everyone was so sweet, and I loved meeting people who are doing the same thing as me. We all love the Olympics so much, so it was fun to share stories about our different Roads to Rio!12794835_1981753342050865_4669878640739798368_o.jpgThat’s the update for now, but expect more updates on my Road to Rio soon! I can’t believe it’s only 151 days to go! 😀

If you know of any fun and exciting places in Rio de Janeiro that I should go to while I’m there, let me know by commenting! Thanks for reading!

Hello 2016!

Happy New Year! I can’t believe it’s already 2016!

2015 was an awesome year for me. I volunteered at the Special Olympics World Games, started interning at Special Olympics New York, created this blog, met two of my heroes, made a lot of amazing new friends, and was accepted to volunteer at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro! 2015 made me really excited for 2016!

In honor of 2016, here is a list of 16 things I am excited about for 2016.

  1. VOLUNTEERING AT THE RIO OLYMPICS!!!!!!! 112414-OLYMPIC-2016-MASCOT-AS-PI.vadapt.620.high.55
  2. Watching the Olympics in person!
  3. Going to the Olympic Village in Rio.
  4. Exploring Rio de Janeiro.
  5. Trading Olympic pins with people from all over the world.
  6. Continuing to intern at Special Olympics New York.
  7. Growing my blog and updating it more frequently.
  8. Meeting more people who love the Olympic Movement just as much as I do!
  9. Graduating from Pace University in December 2016.
  10. Getting my first full-time job!IMG_4864
  11. Volunteering around the city (and writing blog posts about it!).
  12. Writing my senior thesis on the Olympic Movement.
  13. Turning 21.
  14. More Special Olympics New York competitions!
  15. Learning Portuguese.
  16. Summer ❤
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Happy New Year in Portuguese

 Happy 2016 to all of my followers! Here’s to another gold medal year!

Pins (And Their Place in the Olympic Movement)

In my parents’ house in Pennsylvania, they have frames filled with pins right above the computer. For a long time when I was growing up, I had no idea what they were for. However, it all clicked one day, and I realized that these were the pins my family had collected when we went to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

I was one at the time, so I don’t remember it, but my sister says it was really awesome. She told me that her pins were coveted because my mom had gotten Kodak pins that no one else had. Although I missed out on the pin-collecting fun at the Atlanta Games, I was able to experience my own pin-collecting fun this summer at the Special Olympics World Games.

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He was right outside of the LA Memorial Coliseum after the Opening Ceremony and would only trade for pins. People kept trying to buy them, but he kept refusing.

Amy, my supervisor at Special Olympics New York, gave me Special Olympics New York pins before I left. I’m so grateful that she did because I was able to trade those for really cool pins. Mine were highly desired because not many people there were from New York. From my experience, trading pins was a way to open up conversation and connect with people from anywhere. The pins bridged the gap between cultures and languages. Most of the delegations had pins from their countries with them, and it was a good way to approach a team and get to know them. Special Olympics athletes are so kind that usually they tried to give me their pins instead of trading. I always had to make sure that they also got pins from me.

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One of the coolest pin tradings happened on my last night as a volunteer. I was already done with my shift, and I was saying goodbye to everything at UCLA’s Wilson Plaza with my friend I had made during the Games. A man and a woman approached me and asked if I wanted to trade with them. They ended up trading me pins from the Atlanta 1996 Olympics! I traded some of my pins for an Atlanta Olympic pin, Paralympic pin, and a Diving pin. As I was talking with them, they told me they were Olympic historians, and they had been to 18 Olympics in total. They had actually just returned from the Pan Am Games, which happened in Toronto this summer. I got some advice from them about Rio, and I said I would see them there!

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Pins from the Fan Zone. We were giving them out for free- no trading necessary!

After I came back from the World Games, I wasn’t sure of what I should do with my pins. I definitely wanted to display them, so I could see them every day just like I could in my parents’ house. Eventually, I decided to arrange them on a bulletin board with my favorite photos from the Games. I just finished it this past week, and here’s the finished product:

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Thanks for reading! Please follow me for more updates on my Olympic journey!

A Walk Through The LA Memorial Coliseum

When I was in LA, Boston dropped out of the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympics, and it was rumored that LA would go for it. This ended up being correct! Because of this, I decided to go on a self-guided tour of the LA Memorial Coliseum. The LA Memorial Coliseum was the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 1932 and 1984 Summer Olympics, the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games, and would be the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the 2024 Summer Olympics if LA is selected. The LA Memorial Coliseum has so much Olympic history!

I was so excited to tour this place. Unfortunately, I just missed the guided tour, but I actually think that the self-guided tour was better. I could walk wherever I wanted.

IMG_9124IMG_9122Above is the view of the LA Memorial Coliseum while walking up to it. Although I knew the construction wasn’t related to LA’s Olympic bid (because it was happening before Boston pulled out), it still made me feel hopeful that LA 2024 might happen. It was obviously a good sign!

On the right is a photo of me with the cauldron that was lit in 1932, 1984, and 2015! It is hard to see from my selfie, but that cauldron was burning brightly for the Special Olympics!

While I was walking around, it was so inspiring to imagine how it felt in 1932 or 1984.

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I walked in through one of the stadium entrances, and there was this 1984 Memorial. It commemorated every athlete who won a gold medal in the 1984 Games. I was in awe standing in front of it. The people who were featured on this and had won gold medals had once stood where I was.

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As I continued walking, I found this plaque commemorating Jesse Owens, one of the most inspiring Olympians ever. Even though he hadn’t competed in the 1932 Games, he was still remembered. It made me wonder if he has a plaque in every Olympic stadium and if he has a huge plaque in Berlin, the site of the 1936 Olympics (where he competed).

After seeing those cool plaques, I began wandering around the stadium. It’s huge! My ultimate goal was to walk to the center of the stadium and go to the top. Here are some photos I took during my walk around the stadium.

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Here is the view from the top:

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It was so amazing to sit up at the top and drink in all of the Olympic memories. I could easily imagine the entire stadium filled with fans who were cheering athletes. According to the University of South California’s website, there are 93,607 seats,and I bet all of those were filled in 1984 and 1932!

Here is a view of the Downtown LA skyline from the top. It’s a little different from NYC’s skyline but just as beautiful!IMG_6061

After sitting for awhile, I continued walking around the stadium. It was funny because I could see the guided tour as they moved around the stadium. They were moving pretty slowly, so it was easy to catch up with them. It was very tempting to subtly slip into the tour, but they were moving way to slow for me.

Once I left them, I found the press section! Here it is:

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I sat in one of the seats, and it had an awesome view.

I continued walking, and I found another Olympic Memorial. This one was for 1932. I think that if I could have entered through the main entrance, the 1932 and 1984 memorials would have been on either side of me. This memorial had all of the gold medalists of the 1932 Olympics. I managed to get a nice construction worker to take a photo of me in front of this memorial.

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It was very exciting to wander around the site of so much Olympic history. So many athletes had come through this stadium to have their Olympic moment. I really hope that the 2024 Olympic athletes can add to the history of the LA Memorial Coliseum. Fingers crossed for LA 2024!

Here’s the part of USC’s website where I found information about the LA Memorial Coliseum:

http://www.usctrojans.com/facilities/usc-memorial-coliseum.html

Important Things to Know About the 2024 Olympics

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Even though 2024 is nine years away, the 2024 Olympics are in the planning process. I was unbelievably excited for a large part of this year because I thought Boston might have a chance at hosting that Olympics. Backed by Team USA, Boston 2024 put together a strong bid to host the 2024 Olympics, but at the end of July, it pulled out.

I was really disappointed for a few reasons. One, the Olympics in Boston would have brought the Olympics more into my sphere of the world. Boston is so close to NYC, and all of the upcoming host cities are so far away! I was also disappointed because I was preparing to go to Boston to volunteer. Way back in July, I almost booked a bus to Boston to volunteer this Labor Day weekend. Thank goodness I didn’t!

In May, I participated in a monthly Boston 2024 All Volunteer Call, which described the process of applying to host the Olympics and what could be expected of volunteers. During the call, a real Olympic athlete spoke to us! Her name was Gevvie Stone, and she competed in the London 2012 Olympic Rowing! The best part was that I talked to her! I asked her if she was going to compete in Rio (she is planning on it), but she said she wasn’t planning on competing in Boston 2024.

Now, however, it appears that LA, the host city for the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, is taking up the bid! LA’s decision was just announced today! I’m so excited la-24-e1440553449211because it is still in USA, and I love LA! The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously in favor of the bid today. In a press release today, U.S. Olympic Committee’s CEO, Scott Blackmun said, “L.A. has the proven experience in hosting the Games, and knows how to deliver world-class events for athletes and an extraordinary experience for fans. Coupled with the city’s culture of creativity and innovation, we are confident L.A. can deliver an outstanding Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2024.”

LA had to decide by September 15, which is the date when the U.S. Olympic Committee has to submit its complete proposal to the International Olympic Committee. I think LA 2024 will be more successful than Boston because LA has done this twice before, so their budget will be less since they have a lot of the necessary venues. According to NBC LA and the New York Times, LA’s proposed budget and proposed income should leave LA with a profit.

Although LA had to put forth a proposal bid by September 15, it can revise it until late 2016.

The host of the 2024 Summer Games will be announced in Summer 2017. LA 2024’s four main competitors are Rome, Hamburg, Paris, and Budapest.

Here are some great articles that explain the process and outcomes:

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Los-Angeles-Olympics-Bid-Summer-Games-2024-323205911.html

 

Here is an article that explains LA’s decision today:

http://olympictalk.nbcsports.com/2015/09/01/los-angeles-2024-olympic-bid-la2024-usoc/?utm_network=facebook&utm_post=4167021&utm_source=FB%20-%20NBC%20Olympics&utm_tags=srm%5Bolympics%2Carticle%5D

The Meaning of the Olympics

At my age, people always ask, “What do you want to do after college?” or some variation of that question. It has been happening for years, and until senior year of high school, I had no idea. I wanted to be a lawyer until I realized that I didn’t have it in me. I wasn’t ruthless enough. I wanted to be a vet until I job shadowed a vet who had to put a dog down while I was there.

After the vet fiasco, I finally put two and two together and figured out what I wanted to do. I had always wanted to go to the Olympics, but I was never good enough at any sports. Instead, I realized I could go a different way. I still remember the conversation with my older sister about it and how happy and relieved she felt (because she knew I would have been a bad and unhappy lawyer), and also how happy and relieved I felt. Not only would I have an answer to the common, cliché question, but I would also finally have a purpose.

Whenever people ask the question, I answer “I want to work for the Olympics,” and the most frequent response is “Why?”  The Olympic Movement is inspiring. It is a force that unites people across cultures and countries and inspires people to be better than they ever thought they could be. Why wouldn’t people want to work for something that does that?

My favorite Olympic memory is of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I was watching them with my sister late at night, and we were watching the ice skating. Joannie Rochette, a Canadian athlete whose mother had died the Sunday before she was due to compete, began her routine, and I was mesmerized. Nobody would have blamed her if she had left the competition, but instead she dedicated her performance to her mother’s memory. Her strength and determination traveled the 3,000 miles from Vancouver to PA and made me cry. It was so important for her to win for her mother, and her flawless and emotional performance was winning enough. It didn’t help that she won bronze as well.

Stories like Joannie Rochette’s push me to achieve my dream. From May 2014 to May 2015, I worked at YAI Network, a nonprofit that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Interning was mostly fun, but as with any internship, there was a lot stuffing envelopes. I powered through the monotony by watching inspirational Olympic videos. From Jesse Owens in 1936 to Derek Redmond in 1992 to Kerri Strug in 1996 and to Joannie Rochette in 2010, athletes have overcome intense discrimination, disability, death, and injuries to compete. By beating the odds, they kept me struggling to achieve my dream. By working for the Olympic Movement, I will continue on the tradition set forth by its inspiring athletes.

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