Friday, August 03, 2012

Olympic Memories

My 2-year-old daughter calls gymnasts "ballerinas who go upside down" since they wear leotards, so I guess it's really no surprise that I love watching this powerful-yet-graceful sport. (Although I'm actually looking forward to the end of the competition this year because then maybe the toddler will stop trying to flip off the couch. One can hope.)

Sixteen years ago, I had the COOLEST summer job ever. I worked in protocol for the IOC during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta, GA. My office was located in the "Olympic Family Hotel" (a fancy name for the hotel where all the dignitaries, IOC members, national Olympic committee members, and other VIPs stayed while in town).

Basically our job was ticketing. However, the majority of the people we served didn't have to get actual "tickets" per se -- they would walk into events on the basis of the credentials that hung around their neck. Some people (such as President and Mrs. Clinton) could just walk right in to any event they wanted to and be seated, regardless of the popularity of the event. Others (such as their daughter, Chelsea) could walk right into most events, but had to request admission ahead of time to some of the more popular events.

(Yes, I did in fact process a ticket request from Chelsea Clinton. No, I didn't meet her -- her chaperone brought it into the office for her while Chelsea waited in the car, if I recall correctly. And yes, we did award her tickets. I think it was for the gold medal basketball game, but I'm not sure.)

Occasionally I worked onsite at an athletic venue, welcoming guests at the VIP door or checking credentials inside the VIP section at an event. I met the Gore daughters and Jimmy and Rosalin Carter on the last night of swimming, and have a photo of myself posing with gold medalist Tom Dolan.

I was in college at the time, and was the youngest person working in the office, which led most people to believe I was a volunteer, so I ended up with a LOT of freebies during my time there. Sometimes the freebies were pins (it's been estimated that my pin collection is worth around $1000), sometimes food, but sometimes they were tickets.

Sometimes the tickets were for less popular events such as table tennis, but sometimes they were for biggies like basketball, tennis, swimming, and gymnastics.

I actually got to attend one afternoon of women's gymnastics, and two nights of men's gymnastics. It was SO COOL. Of course, I watched Kerri Strug's iconic vault from the couch in my living room like millions of other Americans. It gave me chills, and I was so proud of her.


Wasn't Gabby Douglas amazing last night? Third straight women's all-around gold for the US (Carly Patterson in 2004, Nastia Liukin in 2008, and now Douglas is the best in the world).

But it's such BS that Aliya Mustafina got the bronze over Aly Raisman, despite them both ending with a final score of 59.566. Stupid tiebreaker rules:

Should there be ties in the team finals in London, the lowest apparatus score will be dropped and the remaining scores added. If that doesn't break the tie, additional apparatus scores will be dropped, one at a time, until there is a winner. If no winner emerges, the tie stands.
There is a similar formula for the all-around final. But if no winner has emerged following the dropping of apparatus scores, the execution score total for each gymnast serve as the tie-breaker, followed by his or her total start value. If that doesn't establish a winner, the tie will stand.

The Russian gymnast won the bronze instead of them sharing it because her lowest score of 13.633 was dropped, putting the remainder of her scores higher than Raisman's. Heartbreaking.


What are some of your favorite Olympic memories? Have you been humming the Olympic anthem in your head all week? What did you think of the opening ceremonies? (Personally, I'm not sure whether Danny Boyle is a genius or on crack...I'm thinking a little of both.)

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