A Team of Refugees

7477336-4x3-940x705

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.”

27oly-bach

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.

#OneTeam Campaign

Think back to Sochi 2014. There were a lot of protests of Russia’s antigay legislation, especially leading up to the Games. Here are some of them.Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 9.38.48 AM.png

But there wasn’t any concrete action taken against Sochi or for LGBTQ athletes going there. However, after Sochi 2014 has been a different story.

After Sochi 2014, the International Olympic Committee added “sexual orientation” to its sixth principle of Olympism. Now, athletes are protected from “discrimination of any kind, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

The Canadian Olympic Committee also had a reaction, and that was when the #OneTeam Campaign was formed. Sponsored by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), You Can Play, and Egale Canada Human Rights Trust, this campaign was started to create a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ athletes and youth in sports and in schools. After launching this campaign, the Canadian Olympic Committee expressed that “it believes that sport should be a welcoming space for all, where all participants can feel safe to be their true selves, increasing participation and allowing athletes to compete to the best of their ability.”

14_lgbtq-feat-en_645_363_55

The #OneTeam Campaign consists of three parts. The first was a revision to the COC’s own anti-discrimination articles to explicitly include LGBTQ athletes and coaches. Second, the LGBTQ Resource was introduced to the Canadian School Program, an online resource that provides Canadian educators with Olympic-themed supplies for their classroom. Topics covered include the sport environment, mental fitness, and tips on creating LGBTQ safer spaces in schools. (The link to the resource can be found here). The third part of the campaign is the Athlete Ambassador Program, which brings LGBTQ and straight Olympians to schools across Canada to teach students about equality and inclusion in sport. Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.59.47 PM.png

Here is a PSA video featuring the Athlete Ambassadors:

Kate Moorhouse, Manager of Education, Youth, and Community Outreach for the COC said that although the #OneTeam Campaign is currently focused on inclusion for LGBTQ athletes in sports, the COC would like to expand its message to include all diversity. It wants to make Team Canada one team for all athletes regardless of gender, sexual orientation, type of sport, or disability.
CImvlE_WsAI-ZFB

Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games

IMG_0489Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games were held June 11-12. These were the fifth Special Olympics Games I had been to, and they definitely didn’t disappoint. With my internship at SOSC, I was able to work behind the scenes and definitely had a different perspective from the other Games I’ve attended.

The entire week before was very fast-paced, and everyone in the department worked really hard. There was so much to do! There was a very strong sense of team in my department and in the entire organization. I was impressed by something called the Dog Pound where we had lunch and dinner every day after Wednesday. The volunteers of the Dog Pound were so close-knit and so passionate about Special Olympics. Some of the volunteers no longer lived in Southern California, but they still came back every year just for this! Some even had volunteered at the Summer Games for over 40 years!

IMG_0492

We were primarily stationed in Games HQ, which was in the pyramid on campus (Cal State Long Beach has a giant blue pyramid!). During the Games, people came here with questions, problems, and for lost and found.

Saturday started with the Opening Ceremony. They kept it short and very athlete-centered. All of the delegations filed in, and then there were speeches from various important people involved in the Games (like Bill Shumard, the CEO of SOSC). Additionally, two of the stars of Born This Way, a reality tv show on A&E about people with Down Syndrome who live in Southern California, were there and spoke. This was cool because I’ve seen this show! The two who spoke were Sean, a Special Olympics golfer, and Carly, a swimmer (she’ll be on the show next season). I also met Carly later that day! She was really awesome to talk to, and I’m excited to see her on the show!

IMG_0376

On Saturday, I was able to shadow the Director of Competitions, and she gave me tips on IMG_0404how to properly manage large competitions like the Summer Games. We went to each venue to make sure everything was going well and to see if they needed help. In addition to the tips, this was really cool and helpful because I had never seen the inner workings of a Summer Games.

The Athlete Dance was Saturday night, and I went with a few other people to see what it was like. It was held in the Student Union, which was so big, and it even had a bowling alley inside! Athletes could choose to bowl, play pool, or dance. There was even a DJ and a live band for them to choose from. I danced a little with one of the athletes, and it was a lot of fun!

Sunday was a little more relaxed, and we were able to attend many of the competitions. I saw Rhythmic Gymnastics, Bocce, Athletics, the Festival, Unified Bocce, Basketball, and Aquatics! This was a really fun day because there wasn’t a lot left for us to do, so we were able to enjoy everything we had done to make the Games happen.

All in all, it was a really great learning experience for me. Special Olympics Southern California has one of the best Summer Games in the country, and I’m really grateful that I was able to work to make them happen with the SOSC Sports and Programs team!

After the Summer Games, my internship ended, and I got another internship at the LA 2024 Olympic Bidding Committee (see this blog post for information about the LA 2024 bid)!!! This past Thursday, we had an Olympic Day celebration at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, so check back here in the upcoming week for a blog post about it!

la-24-e1440553449211

A Look Ahead to the SOSC Summer Games

This weekend, June 11 and 12, is Special Olympics Southern California’s Summer Games! As an intern, I’ve been working hard to help prepare for these Games. Over 1,100 athletes from all over Southern California are coming to California University Long Beach to compete in Aquatics, Athletics, Basketball, Bocce, Golf, and Gymnastics. Here’s a little about what to expect at the Games.

Aquatics

I’ve seen Special Olympics Aquatics once at the Special Olympics New York Fieldston Aquatics and Basketball Invitational in April, and it was really fun to watch! Athletes can compete in Freestyle, Backstroke, Breaststroke, and Butterfly along with the Individual Medley (IM) and Freestyle and Medley relays. The Southern California Games will be different from anything I’ve seen because the pool’s outside!

Sports-Offered-Page---Aquatics

From Special Olympics Southern California’s website

Athletics

Always exciting to watch, Athletics is comprised of race walking, long jump, shot put, softball throw, standing long jump, wheelchair races, and various track events like the 100 meter run. Here are some photos of Athletics from last year’s Metro Tournament.

Basketball

Depending on skill level, Special Olympics athletes can play basketball on teams or compete in individual skills competitions. The individual skills competitions include target pass, ten-meter dribble, and spot shot.

Bocce

I’ve never watched Bocce at a Special Olympics competition. It would definitely be a very exciting sport to watch because of the intense strategy needed. The Special Olympians who are competing in Bocce this weekend will compete in teams of four, and each team’s goal is to get as many of their balls closer to the smallest ball (the pallina) than the opposing team’s closest ball.

Sports-Offered-Page---Bocce

From Special Olympics Southern California’s website

Golf 

Athletes compete in Individual Skills, Unified Golf (the athlete is partnered with an athlete without disabilities), Nine Holes, or 18 Holes. I’ve never watched this at a Special Olympics competition either, but I would like to.

Gymnastics

Just like the Olympics, Special Olympics athletes can compete in Rhythmic or Artistic Gymnastics. Rhythmic Gymnastics is where athletes perform using a ball, hoop, clubs, ribbon, or a rope. Artistic Gymnastics includes Floor Exercise, Pommel Horse, Rings, Vaulting, Parallel Bars, and Horizontal Bar for the men, and women compete in Floor Exercise, Vaulting, Uneven Bars, and Balance Beam. I was able to watch a little of the Rhythmic and Artistic Gymnastics at World Games last year, so I’m really excited to watch them at the Summer Games! I’m stationed here this weekend.

I hope now you’re as excited about the Summer Games as I am!

Additionally, happy birthday to my blog! The Olympics of Blogs turns 1 today!

From SONY to SOSC

May 13 was my last day at Special Olympics New York City. I was really sad to leave because the employees and athletes had become my family. I will definitely volunteer with them again in the fall because interning at Special Olympics NYC changed my life. I started out very quiet but determined to be a good intern, and I ended as a super intern with a really strong passion for Special Olympics!

IMG_2151.jpgHere is a look back at my five favorite parts of interning at Special Olympics NYC:

  1. Fall State Games

This was my first State Games as an intern, and I really enjoyed it! It was different from my first New York State Games because I actually knew a lot of the staff and the athletes, and I was there with my friends/co-workers from Special Olympics NYC, Amy, Kaitlin, Sam, and Bill. I was stationed at Equestrian, which was so much fun to see. Before that, I had never seen Special Olympics Equestrian because NYC doesn’t have it. All in all, it was a magical experience. Seeing the love Special Olympics athletes have for their sports while they’re competing makes me so happy, and that love was definitely there all day.

Here’s my blog post about the Fall State Games:    https://theolympicsofblogs.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/special-olympics-new-york-fall-state-games/

2. Metro Tournament

This was my first Special Olympics NYC competition, and it took place May 30, 2015, right after I started my internship. This day was so exciting, and it gave me a really good look into Special Olympics. I met some awesome athletes, including three athletes who ran the Flame of Hope in with Law Enforcement officers, Valerie (who won a gold medal at the National Games), Thomas (who would compete at the World Games later in the summer), and Doug (Thomas’ dad and also a fierce Special Olympics competitor). I took photos throughout the day, and being given free reign to wander around the competition allowed me to fully immerse myself in Special Olympics. My favorite event was the Powerlifting because each Powerlifter competed with a different persona (see the photo below of the Skullcrusher).

Here’s my blog post about the Metro Tournament:    https://theolympicsofblogs.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/countdown-to-the-world-games-day-3/

3. Halloween!

Although this wasn’t an official Special Olympics event, it still is one of my favorite moments while working at Special Olympics New York. Luckily Halloween fell on a Friday, so I was able to celebrate it while at the office! The day contained a lot of eating, sugar highs, scaring people with masks, and a piñata! It was a really fun day spent being with my Special Olympics family. ❤

4. Winter State Games

These Games had some of the best competition that I’ve seen since I’ve started working for Special Olympics. Thanks to a really nice volunteer photographer, I was able to see Cross-Country Skiing, Alpine Skiing, Snowshoe, and Figure Skating, in addition to watching the Opening Ceremony and dancing in the Closing Ceremony! Watching the skiing and snowshoe competitions was really fun because I have no background in those sports. I had never even watched someone ski in real life before! Of course, the Figure Skating was still my favorite. I love watching the athletes play to the audience and seeing the audience react with cheers and applause.

Here’s my blog post about the 2016 Winter State Games: https://theolympicsofblogs.wordpress.com/2016/02/25/the-2016-winter-state-games/

5. Anytime with Special Olympics Athletes

Special Olympics athletes are some of the best people I know. After a year at Special Olympics New York, I know how hard they work to accomplish everything they do, and it’s really amazing and inspiring.

483650002

It has been an incredible year at Special Olympics New York City. Last summer, I said I pass the flame for happiness, and Special Olympics does mean happiness for me.  Even though I left Special Olympics New York, I’m carrying that flame of happiness with me to my internship at Special Olympics Southern California this summer. Thank you to everyone who made Special Olympics New York special. 🙂

11412241_10204820640575580_149071397099577514_n

An Interview with Marlene Owens Rankin, the Daughter of Jesse Owens

RACE is a movie about Jesse Owens, one of the most inspiring Olympians of all time. He competed in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin right before Hitler and the Nazis came into full power. Owens won four gold medals, and his wins showed the Nazis that people of all races can become champions. Released on DVD today, RACE stars Stephan James as Jesse Owens and co-stars Jason Sudeikis, Jeremy Irons, William Hurt, and Carice van Houten.

image.jpg

Jesse Owens had three daughters, Gloria, Marlene, and Beverly. Together, they run the Jesse Owens Foundation, which “perpetuate[s] the spirit and beliefs of Jesse Owens through its support of The Ruth and Jesse Owens Scholars Program at The Ohio State University as well as through serving as a resource for information on the life and legend of Jesse Owens” (see http://jesse-owens.org/ for more information). Although Owens passed away in 1980, his foundation carries on his memory.

The Olympics of Blogs was able to interview one of Jesse Owens’ daughters, Marlene Owens Rankin, about the movie, the foundation, and her father. Enjoy!

ct-jesse-owens-daughters-race-movie-mov-0219-2-002.jpeg

Left to Right: Beverly Owens Prather, Marlene Owens Rankin, and Gloria Owens Hemphill. Photo from the Chicago Tribune (http://tinyurl.com/j4yqev4)

The Olympics of Blogs: What was it like to grow up with your dad?

Marlene Owens Rankin: Growing up with my father was much like any other family. He was a disciplinarian and he and my mother had high expectations and standards for me and my sisters. It was not until we reached our teenage years that we realized that he was a celebrity and the level of his celebrity. He was just Daddy to us.

The Olympics of Blogs: Were you ever able to watch your dad run? Could you describe the experience?

Marlene Owens Rankin: I was not born when my father was in his prime as an athlete. Watching films of his athletic accomplishments is awe inspiring. Such talent – such grace.

Jesse_Owens3.jpg

Competing at the 1936 Olympics.                                                                                                                  Photo Credit: USATF Hall of Fame (http://www.usatf.org/halloffame/TF/showBio.asp?HOFIDs=126)

The Olympics of Blogs: Have you ever been to Berlin? Were you able to see where your father competed?

Marlene Owens Rankin: My sisters and I have been to Berlin a number of times and each time has been a heartwarming and enjoyable experience. I remember the first time that I saw the Olympic stadium and his name etched in the wall, it gave me chills. It is an amazing place. Today, there is a street that leads to the stadium named for him – Jesse Owens Allee. In the stadium there is a Jesse Owens Lounge which is most impressive with large photos of him surrounding the two story room. Our last visit was to be on set for the filming of one of the scenes for the movie RACE.

The Olympics of Blogs: What is your role in the Jesse Owens Foundation?

Marlene Owens Rankin: I am the Managing Director of the Jesse Owens Foundation. I have managed the Foundation since 1991 and duties included administering the Scholarship and other programs, fund raising, managing up to 100 volunteers, working with the Board of Directors on policy issues, mentoring students and supervising staff. Today, we have downsized and endowed our program (scholarships) to The Ohio State University. The Foundation now provides occasional small grants and provides information and referral on the life and legacy of Jesse Owens.

The Olympics of Blogs: How does the work of the Jesse Owens Foundation showcase the spirit of Jesse Owens?

Marlene Owens Rankin: By providing information on Jesse Owens, we keep history from being rewritten. Our participation in the accuracy of the script for the movie RACE is an example of how we manage that. Our work with The Ohio State University in providing underprivileged young people with an opportunity for an education is another and our efforts on behalf of the youth of this country is yet another.

The Olympics of Blogs: What was your role in the creation of RACE

Marlene Owens Rankin: The creation of RACE was the brainchild of Luc Dayan, a French businessman and sports enthusiast. We participated in it by providing guidance with the script in terms of context and time.

The Olympics of Blogs: Do you think your dad would like the movie?

Marlene Owens Rankin: I think that my father would be very proud of the movie.

The Olympics of Blogs: What was your favorite part of RACE?

Marlene Owens Rankin: I loved it all but the part that tugged at my heart the most was when my parents were not allowed to enter the Waldorf at the front door but had to use the freight elevator. It breaks your heart that such a kind, caring and giving individual such as he was could be treated so shabbily.

The Olympics of Blogs: If your dad were alive right now, what do you think he would say about track and field as it is today?

Marlene Owens Rankin: I’m not sure what he would say about it. I know that he loved the sport and was proud of his accomplishments. He encouraged others to strive for excellence and be the best that they could be. He was modest and appreciated his good fortune.

Here is RACE‘s trailer:

I would like to thank Marlene for allowing me to interview her and for giving me this amazing opportunity to learn more about such an inspirational figure in the Olympics.

Make sure to get out and buy a copy of RACE today!

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! 😀

maternity banner.jpg

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.

Congrats.PNG

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!

FilmMaster_were_behind_the_Rio_2016_handover_segment_in_the_London_2012_Closing_Ceremony.jpg

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!

volunteer photo.jpg

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

100.PNG

The International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

Today is the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, and it’s also the 120th anniversary of the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece, in 1896!

IOC_UN_Flags_630.jpg

The United Nations created this holiday to celebrate the power of sport in sustainable process and change. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, said, “Sport has become a world language, a common denominator that breaks down all the wall, all the barriers. It is a worldwide industry whose practices can have widespread impact. Most of all, it is a powerful tool for progress and for development.”

advocacy-300x200.jpg

Started in 2014, the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace is the annual celebration of what the International Olympic Committee, National and International Sports Federation, sports clubs, governmental and non-governmental organizations, neighborhood associations and everything else is doing to use sport to help create social change.

To celebrate the day, artist Maud Bernos created the “Carton Blanc” or “White Card” project. Referees give players red cards if they are too violent (it’s the most serious offense a player can commit), so a white card symbolizes peace. It’s a worldwide project, so everyone is encouraged to participate. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Take a photo of yourself holding a white card.
  2. Post the photo on social media with the status, “Post your #WhiteCard to play for peace on April 6! @peaceandsport #IDSDP #sport4abetterworld”

Here’s mine!IMG_1831.jpg

 

Have fun celebrating sport today!