My Olympic Summer

Hi everyone!

I’m sorry for not posting for such a long time. After Rio, I was really exhausted, and then I had to get ready for my last semester of college! Now, I’m back in school, and I’m going to try to keep a regular posting schedule again.

Coming back to school again after Rio and my summer has been difficult, but I’m slowly adjusting. Because it’s almost the end of summer (it ends on September 21), I thought I would look back on my very Olympic summer for this post. Here is a recap video.

 

This summer, I was lucky enough to intern for Special Olympics Southern California at the Summer Games, volunteer for LA24 and LA84’s Olympic Day at the LA Memorial Coliseum, organize a day for Rio 2016 volunteers in Southern California to visit LA 2024’s office to learn more about the bid, meet Kerri Walsh Jennings, attend the Road to Rio event at Venice Beach, meet Dustin Plunkett, attend NBC’s Social Media Opening Ceremony, intern for the LA 2024 Olympic Bid Committee, and volunteer at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Mostly though, I was really lucky to be able to spend a whole summer doing what I love. I’m so grateful to have had the summer I had and to have met the people I met.

What’s next for me?

I am currently writing my senior Honors thesis about incorporating a Special Olympics’ Unified Sports experience into the Olympics. It’s due in December! In the meantime, I’ll also be going to Olympic, Paralympic, and Special Olympic events in the city and volunteering! Keep an eye on my blog to read more about what I’m up to!

After that, I’m graduating from Pace University, and then, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. 🙂

The Athens 2004 Opening Ceremony

When I was interning for Special Olympic NYC last spring, I met Annamaria who was also an intern. In 2004, she attended the Opening Ceremony for the Athens 2004 Olympics with her family. The Rio 2016 Opening Ceremony is one week from today, so I asked her about her experience at the Athens Ceremony 12 years ago.

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Annamaria with her grandpa at the Opening Ceremony

The Olympics of Blogs: How old were you when you watched the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremony?

Annamaria: I was 10 years old.

The Olympics of Blogs: What was your favorite part?

Annamaria: The entire ceremony was amazing, but if I had to choose one part, it was when there were two men beating a drum. One on screen at the site Olympia and one in the stadium. Immediately after this, a flame flew into the Olympic stadium and created the Olympic rings. I remember that being a powerful moment and apparently the drum beats were supposed to represent the beating of the heart.

Here is a video of that moment! Click the link to open it on YouTube!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2atZjcBqs4

The Olympics of Blogs: As someone who is Greek and American, do you think that you experienced the Ceremony differently from people of different nationalities?

Annamaria: I would say for Greek people from Greece and around the world, this Ceremony was very important to them and once in a lifetime. I was very proud to have the Olympic Games back at home in Greece and very grateful that I could experience the Ceremony in person. I also think the Olympics are very important to Americans, and they also have a lot of pride as well. So it was a really special night, experiencing the entire ceremony as both a proud Greek and American. We had both the American and Greek flag with us; this made the whole experience of cheering for the Greek and American athletes really fun! We were cheering for everyone though. The people sitting near us were from different areas around the world, so we were cheering with them too and just having a great time!

The Olympics of Blogs: Could you describe the ceremony?

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Annamaria: The entire ceremony felt surreal. I was sad when it ended because I didn’t want it to end! It was a very well put together ceremony and very symbolic, which ties in with the importance of symbolism and philosophy in Greek history and culture. A large portion of the ceremony was the procession of the history of Greece until modern day. It was so beautiful to watch. A moment that stuck out to me the most was when the athletes from Iraq walked out. The entire stadium started cheering very loud for them to support them, given the political tensions that were happening around the world at that time. It really proves how the Olympics can be unifying and bring peace during times of political division in the world. Overall, the entire ceremony was beautiful and well put together. The feeling in the stadium was full of happiness, excitement, and pride from everyone.
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I’m still working on trying to get Opening Ceremony tickets of my own! We’ll see how that goes as we get closer to August 5. Only 7 days to go until the 2016 Rio Opening Ceremony.

For faster updates while I’m at the Olympics, follow the Olympics of Blogs on Instagram @theolympicsofblogs.

Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Commercials

The weeks leading up to the Olympics and Paralympics are always really exciting. This year, they’re even more exciting for me because the countdown keeps getting smaller until I’m actually in Rio!

Something that always helps build the excitement are the commercials, and because we’re getting closer and closer to the Games, more and more commercials are appearing.

Here are some of the best Olympic and Paralympic commercials I’ve seen:

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I’m hoping that as we get closer to the Paralympic Games (September 7-18, 2016), there will be more Paralympic commercials, but here’s a sample of the Olympic and Paralympic commercials so far! It’s time to get excited! 😀

Enjoy watching these commercials as you watch the Olympics and Paralympics! Don’t forget to look for me on TV!

I head to Rio this Monday! For faster updates while I’m at the Olympics, follow the Olympics of Blogs on Instagram @theolympicsofblogs.

The U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials

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Leah Braswell, a 16-year-old who trains and competes with the York YMCA in Pennsylvania, recently competed at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials on July 1 in Omaha, Nebraska. The Olympics of Blogs was able to interview her about her experience at the Trials, and here’s what she had to say.

The Olympics of Blogs: What event did you compete in?

Leah: I competed in the 800 freestyle.

The Olympics of Blogs: How did you do at the Olympic Trials?

Leah: I added a few seconds in the 800 and didn’t do as well as I had hoped.

The Olympics of Blogs: How were the Trials? Could you describe them?

Leah: Trials was an indescribable experience. It was so exciting being able to watch finals and getting to see people make their first or fifth Olympic team. There was an extreme mix of emotions between people making the team and others getting third and just missing it.

The Olympics of Blogs: Do you think you will try again for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics?

Leah: In 2020, I hope to be swimming in college and will most likely try again.

The Olympics of Blogs: How were you feeling before you competed?

Leah: My race was on one of the last days of the meet, so I had already been there to watch preliminaries and finals for five days and see how the meet ran, which definitely helped me with nerves. However, I was still pretty nervous before the race because it’s a very intense atmosphere.

The Olympics of Blogs: How did you feel after you were done?

Leah: After the race, I was a little upset because I added to my time, but it was still an amazing experience that I will never forget.

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The York YMCA Swim Team

Good luck to Leah in the future in college and Tokyo 2020!

Less than 2 weeks until I head to Rio! For faster updates while I’m at the Olympics, follow the Olympics of Blogs on Instagram @theolympicsofblogs.

 

A Team of Refugees

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The Rio 2016 Olympics and Paralympics and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have been getting a lot of negative press in the last few months. People have been urging the IOC to call off the Games, but the IOC has decided to let the Games go on. In less than 2 weeks, I will be in Rio ready to volunteer, meet people from all over the world, and watch athletes overcome the odds to proudly represent themselves and their countries.

In addition to the spectators, volunteers, staff, and athletes who are there to participate under their national flags, Rio 2016 will have a Refugee Olympic Team.

Ten refugee athletes who had to flee their home countries will compete under the Olympic flag. If you watch the Opening Ceremony, look for them marching under the Olympic flag right before Brazil at the end of the Parade of Nations.

Created as an Olympic response to the worldwide refugee crisis, the IOC formed this team by first asking National Olympic Committees (NOCs) around the world to identify refugee athletes with the potentials to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympics. Forty-three candidates were identified, and these ten athletes were selected.

  • Rami Anis (M): Country of origin – Syria; sport – swimming; host NOC – Belgium
  • Yiech Pur Biel (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 800m; host NOC – Kenya
  • James Nyang Chiengjiek (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 400m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Yonas Kinde (M): Country of origin – Ethiopia; sport – athletics, marathon; host NOC – Luxembourg
  • Anjelina Nada Lohalith (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 1500m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Rose Nathike Lokonyen (F): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 800m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Paulo Amotun Lokoro (M): Country of origin – South Sudan; sport – athletics, 1500m; host NOC – Kenya
  • Yolande Bukasa Mabika (F): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; sport – judo, -70kg; host NOC – Brazil
  • Yusra Mardini (F): Country of origin – Syria; sport – swimming; host NOC – Germany
  • Popole Misenga (M): Country of origin – Democratic Republic of the Congo; sport – judo, -90k; host NOC – Brazil

 

The video above doesn’t work on this blog post, but if you click the play arrow and then you click “Watch on YouTube,” you’ll be able to watch it on YouTube.

The IOC’s Olympic Solidarity program will provide funding for these athletes to cover their preparation, travel, and other expenses for the Olympic Games. The IOC will continue to support the refugee athletes after the Olympics.

Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, said, “These refugees have no home, no team, no flag, no national anthem. We will offer them a home in the Olympic Village together with all the athletes of the word. The Olympic anthem will be played in their honor and the Olympic flag will lead them into the Olympic Stadium. This will be a symbol of hope for all the refugees in our world and will make the world better aware of the magnitude of this crisis. It is also a signal to the international community that refugees are our fellow human beings and are an enrichment to society. These refugee athletes will show the world that despite the unimaginable tragedies that they have faced, anyone can contribute to society through their talent, skills and strength of the human spirit.”

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IOC President Thomas Bach with the Olympic flag

For faster updates while I’m at the Olympics, follow the Olympics of Blogs on Instagram @theolympicsofblogs.

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.

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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The Olympic Museum

Here is a really amazing blog post written by my friend, Lili. She’s been studying abroad in London since January, and she’s been going on such amazing adventures! Recently, she journeyed to Lausanne, Switzerland, home of the Olympic Museum, and from what she wrote, it sounds like such an awesome museum! If you are interested in reading more about her travels or about any books she’s reading, check out her beautiful blog at http://lilisreflections.blogspot.com.

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Thank you so much for having me on the blog today, Carolyn!

I went to Switzerland in the beginning of March to visit a friend, and she just so happens to live in Lausanne… the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee! I took advantage of this awesome opportunity by spending a day in the Olympic Museum.

When you first walk in, you are greeted by a test track with the 5 rules of the Olympics listed: Fair Play, Excellence, Respect, Friendship, and Peace. This sets the tone of your entire visit because it symbolizes what the museum is all about. If you come from the opposite direction, you’ll climb a staircase full of dates and locations, which end up being the hosts of all recorded Games in years’ past. Pretty cool.

The museum starts you off by teaching you the history of the Games, bringing you through exhibits of what the original Games were like all the way through an exhibit on the life of the father of the modern Games. This entire first floor is very educational. I think the coolest fact that I picked up is that in the original Games in Athens, there were twelve Zeus statues on the ground to inspire athletes. Each of these statues was bought and paid for by a past Olympian that was caught cheating and exiled from the games. Their names were often etched into it, so they forever lived in shame.

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This exhibit also took you through the history of the Olympic flag. Originally it was not the five ring symbol we know and love today. And, on top of that, when it eventually became the five rings we know today, the regulations of the time prohibited the rings from properly interlocking. So the symbol we know today is still relatively young in the grand scheme of things. It was really cool to see one of the first and oldest surviving Olympic flags with today’s modern symbol.
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What stood out to me, though, was the torch exhibit. They have an actual torch for every single Games displayed and watching them transform and become more intricately detailed with each passing year was astounding. Plus, they have a Rio torch on display that I excitedly touched just to be able to say I did. Let me tell you, she is a beaut.

The next floor has some crazy history exhibits with so many interactive opportunities that you can spend hours here. Everywhere you look you could find famous outfits and equipment belonging to athletes that revolutionized their respective sport. You can then scroll through iPads at each station, select an athlete, and read in-depth bios and watch record-breaking videos of Olympians who I wasn’t alive to view myself on television.

The best part of this level, however, is the video screen. They have every single Olympic Games on it, and ten different ones can be viewed at once. You pick an Olympics, and you can view a 5 to 10 minute video about that year’s importance…the athletes that revolutionized sports, new sports introduced, any historical controversies—I found the video of the Games hosted under Hitler to be especially fascinating for this reason. I must have spent a solid hour there, scrolling through every year I have been able to watch on television, a few historically important ones, and the Games hosted in any city I’ll be visiting in the future out of sheer curiosity.

The third and final level of the museum is all about the athletes. You walk downstairs and there’s a ton of mannequins dressed in the old workout clothing of each country. There are simulators for you to test balance, reflexes, speed, etc. at the rate of an Olympic athlete, and they make you feel like you are so out of shape you should never get off the couch. There are interactive booths that let you sit down and view special interviews set up with famous athletes that simulate an environment where it feels like they’re talking directly to you. There’s an entire section on doping where I learned I’d be a really bad judge of character because I took a test just to be told I have no idea how to properly spot people doping. It’s all so interesting really.

But the best part is at the very end. They have the medal room. An entire room featuring a silver, bronze, and gold from every Olympics ever. It’s so fascinating to see the basicness of Athens 1896 (the gold was unfortunately missing to be cleaned) to the intricacy of Sochi 2014.

Right before you exit, you stumble into an actual Olympic podium from Sydney’s 2000 Olympics. Naturally, I needed a picture, and you know, I obviously went for the gold. Do you blame me?

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This museum is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I love museums and often wander off on my own when exploring them because my friends aren’t as into them as I am, but this is a museum that even the most reluctant museum goer will be interested in. Heavy on interactive experiences, you decide how long you spend in there by indicating what you are interested in and exploring with that in mind. I would go back if I ever find myself in Lausanne, Switzerland again. I will say this: Lausanne is a one-day kind of trip. While it holds such importance to the Olympics it’s a very small city with not a lot to do, so the Olympics Museum is more like a stop-over on a larger journey to, say, Interlaken or Bern, but it is a stop-over that is so, so worth it.

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!