Author Archives: amonline

About amonline

Reporters and Editors from The Advocate in Danville, KY, will use this blog to share information with readers about stories, events and our decision-making and information-gathering processes.

Work Is Over

Yesterday was Closing Ceremonies and if you actually watched it, it obviously wasn’t as entertaining as Opening Ceremonies, but I don’t think much can compete with the first show.  I still thought that Closing was fun to watch live, the best part is that the intros of the countries and athletes took a total of 20 minutes instead of over 2 hours.  I sat in a different position from Opening and that made a huge difference.  Instead of being around turn 2, I was right in the middle of the front of the stadium.  That made the London performances so cool because they were right in front of me.

When the event was over we went straight to work on tearing out as much as we could from the stadium.  We took all the cameras off the field and most from the upper levels too.  We pulled cable from the tunnels that go underneath the field all the way around.  We finally left the stadium just after midnight and walked to the IBC for the BOB company party.  It takes about 10 minutes to walk to the IBC from the stadium; we were gone from the IBC around 12:45.  That was my first company party, and let’s just say that hopefully the ones in the future are a little better.

Today we went to work knowing that this was the last day, and we were excited.  We were not excited about the work that we knew we had to do.  Pulling cable, moving boxes, loading trucks, so basically all the fun was saved for us.  All of the cameramen, directors, and producers were gone.  The only people besides us were the production companies that were trying to get all of their equipment packed up.  Let’s just say that we started counting down the time before we showed up.

It seems so strange that everything is ending or has ended.  That feeling when things change is always a weird feeling that I don’t necessarily always like right away.  I met and worked with so many great people from all over the world, and the likelihood that I meet up with most of them is not very good.  The Chinese kids were so much to be around and we exchanged e-mails and some have facebook, and they all want to come to America so hopefully when they do they still remember me and we can meet up.

It is so nice to be done with work and I am excited about going back home, but I still have one more day here.  My plan is to go to the Summer Palace, I’ve heard it’s unbelievable.  I still need to pick up my suit and do a little more shopping at the markets.  I’ll try and post one more time from here before I leave, but if not then I’ll post from back in Wilmore.  My flight gets in Wednesday at 11:08 pm, I can’t wait.

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Down the home stretch

Things are slowly wrapping up here in China, and I can’t say that I’m not excited to get back to the States.  I miss a lot of the conveniences of being back home.  I think I speak for everyone here when I say that I like China but I’m ready to be back home.

As of now I am done with Horizontal Jumps, we finished last (Friday) night.  That means that I get to be reassigned to other things for the next couple of days.  Around here reassigned is another word for doing the crappy jobs.  I guess it’s kind of fair in a way because I haven’t had to work the long hours that everyone else has had to.

As I sit here in my room, watching the Men’s Football Final on TV, I realize I could be there in person to watch this match.  I almost feel like I’m letting myself down by not going there, but I haven’t been getting a lot of sleep the last few weeks and took this opportunity to sleep in.

I wish I had some cool stories about meeting some athletes or something like that, but I just haven’t been able to do that like some of my friends.  My friend Stephen works at the basketball venue and his job is to make sure everyone goes into the Mixed Zone and doesn’t stay too long.  That means he’s talked to just about all of Team USA, and Craig Sager, who does the sideline reporting for NBC.  I get to sit pretty close to all the action but I just don’t get the same interaction with the athletes, I really don’t get to say anything to them at all.

I know this wasn’t much of a post, and wasn’t very long, but there hasn’t been a whole lot to write about lately.  I have 5 days left and hopefully I’ll blog 2 or 3 more times.

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The Fastest Man…EVER!

Now that events have started it has made the long days so much more enjoyable.  I sit on the backstretch and watch people jump really far.  That’s probably the best way to describe it.  When my event is over for the day or session I usually go the gate right past the finish line and watch whatever is happening on the track.  I like to think it’s the best seat in the house.

The one event that is guaranteed to draw one of the biggest audiences is always the Men’s 100m Final.  That is the one race I was really excited about before the games started.  I wanted to see how fast these men actually ran in person, and I was hoping that our local favorite, Tyson Gay, would walk away a Gold Medalist.  I was disappointed for Tyson when he didn’t make the final, I can’t imagine working my whole life for something like this and come up short.

I really get a first hand look at all these athletes, and the worst part is to see their disappointment when they don’t live up to their hopes.  Watching the joy explode from someone’s body when they medal is one of the most exciting things I have ever seen, but to me it’s the look of dejection after a race that will last longer.  I’m sure there is some TV coverage of the non-medalists in the final races, throws, or jumps, but I look at the faces of those who don’t even make the finals and just feel so bad for them.  There isn’t a “just wait til next year” for them, there isn’t even a “just wait til the next Olympics” for the majority of them.  It’s just over.

Now on the man that this post is titled after…Usian Bolt.  What an incredible athlete!  During the finals I was down along the gate right after the finish line, the best seat in the house.  There were about 5 of us down there and our boss came up to us right before the race started and wanted us to block the entire gate so no one would get in the way of the camera.  Like any good employees we listened to our boss and saw Bolt fly right towards us.  I really am not eloquent enough with words to describe how awesome it was.  Those men, even the one that finished 8th is so fast.

The stadium went absolutely nuts when he crossed the finish line, and good thing he didn’t show boat at all when he won.  We were all pumped to see a world record right in front of us.  If the night had ended like that I would have been pleased.  But there was more.  When Bolt was running around the track for his victory lap our boss asked for two people to help him.  When Bolt got back to the front one of the cameramen ran out there to get some close shots.  The reason why we were out there was to make sure he didn’t trip over anything or anyone and that no one really got in his way.  That was pretty cool to be out there near the middle of the track for one of the biggest victory celebrations of the games.

The night was not over yet.  Every athlete that competes has to go through the “Mix Zone” which is where all the broadcasters have paid to put a camera and a reporter.  They can interview any athlete for their own country.  There are about 5 levels to the mix zone with about 10 spots at each level.  After they get through that part they walk down to the back underneath the stands where it is basically a free for all.  In that area there is a barricade that separates the media from the athletes.  Usually there aren’t a lot of people down there but after the Men’s 100 it was packed.  They push and push trying to get their mics or cameras in for a good shot or quote.  Our job was to squat down and push back on the barricade so it wouldn’t topple over.  That means we were continually about 8 inches away from the fastest man in the world.  That was one of the coolest things to me, being so close to him.  Our boss took some pictures from down there but I haven’t gotten them yet, I will post them for sure when I do get them.  I do have some pictures from that night that I will post.

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Lucky Number 10

Well I guess it’s true that sometimes hard work really does pay off.  As I write this there are only 10 hours until Track and Field events finally get under way.  I think I speak for all of the 300 BOB employees at the National Stadium when I say it’s about time.  Most of us have been here for close to 3 weeks, 22 days and counting for me, and we still haven’t seen any competitions.  A lot of my friends at other venues have been here for a week and have been watching competitions the entire time; they haven’t had the joy of pulling cable and setting up cameras and then re-setting them up for three weeks.

I will say that I am one of the 10 luckiest from Asbury because we are at the best venue, but it’s just a long time to work and not see any athletes or anything, besides Ceremonies.  We have been working about 9-10 hours a day and haven’t gotten to watch anything, just working.  Tomorrow the fun really starts because for us the games finally begin.  Our 10 hour days will go to about 18 in some cases.

I mentioned in my last post that we are all separated into the track, throws, horizontal jumps, vertical jumps, and integrated feeds.  That means that we all work different hours based on what is going on.  The 5 people working for track and integrated have to be there the entire time that anything is going on, that means morning and evening sessions.  Throws, horizontal jumps, and vertical jumps are basically only there when each field event is going on, so we all have lighter work schedules.

Tomorrow everyone except for horizontal jumps has to be there for the morning session.  That means catching the bus at 5:30 am, working all morning, probably hanging around for a 3-4 hour break, and working for another 4 hours until midnight.  I, on the other hand, get to enjoy sleeping in and lounging until about 3:30 then heading over for the evening.  There is only the qualification for the women’s triple jump tomorrow, and that’s only about 2 hours long.

There are good and bad aspects to being assigned to horizontal jumps believe it or not.  First I have horizontal jumps which will be cool, but it’s obviously less prestigious back in the States, and I have no clue who any American athletes are.  The only one I ever really knew was Carl Lewis, who knows he could still be competing.  The best part of the light work schedule, besides getting to sleep in some days, is that when I’m off I’m going to hang around the stadium and watch the events.  I haven’t figured out exactly what events I can watch, I know that the Men’s 100 have heats morning and evening tomorrow.  I’m hoping the finals are a time I’m off so I can go watch Tyson Gay win gold.  The horizontal jumps are on the backstretch so when I’m working I have to look across the entire field to see the finish line, I’m really hoping that I can watch some races, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

By the way, I’ll be wearing a blue bib number 104.  Like I said I’ll be on the backstretch for triple and long jump, including heptathlon and decathlon.  The best chance to see me is when they show the athletes walking back from the pit to their seat, but only when they show them and the crowd at the same time.  I hope that makes sense, but if not just look for me in my bib #104 on the backstretch close to the wall.  I don’t know if NBC will show a lot of triple jump tomorrow or not but whenever they happen to show it, look for me.

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On to the track and field

Now that Ceremonies are over it’s time to set up for Track and Field. For the most part there is not a lot of work to do, we have some cables to run and we had to move some cameras around but it’s been pretty light the last few days.

Today was pretty exciting because we found out our assignments for Track and Field. I will be assisting another steadicam out on the field. Since there are so many events taking place at once there are actually five different feeds for Track and Field. There is the main track feed which includes all races and all medal ceremonies, there is a throws feed, a horizontal jumps feed, a vertical jumps feed, and an integrated feed. The integrated feed puts together the most interesting thing going on at the moment no matter if it’s a throw, jump, or race. People like NBC can take any part of those feeds and decide how they will broadcast back to their country.

I am assigned to the horizontal jumps, so long jump and triple jump. I don’t know exactly what I will be doing for the cameraman, I haven’t met him yet. I am assuming that it should be more active than Opening Ceremonies but you never know. For Opening Ceremonies the entire camera crew and production team was from Finland, and I really enjoyed working with the Fins. Now the Fins are only doing the track feed, throws feed, and the integrated feed, so that means I’ll be working with the Swedes. It’s pretty funny because the Fins seem to not like the Swedes, at least by their jokes, and since I’ll be working with the Swedes I want to find out how they feel.

In non-work related news…In our rooms at the Village we get all the feeds from all the Olympic Venues on our TVs which is really cool. So now that the games have started I can come home and watch whatever I want, swimming, gymnastics, handball, water polo, field hockey, badminton, it really doesn’t matter. If it’s going on I can watch it. But there is a big problem with that too. Since we broadcast every sport to the entire world the goal is to do so in a non-biased way. The NBCs add their own commentary and spin to the feed we give them. That makes it hard to know exactly what’s going on in some events. When I watch swimming, I have no idea who the favorite is or who is coming up next or who won earlier. I also don’t have internet in my room or building so I have to walk to get to it, so it’s not like I can look back at the results from earlier in the day. It really is amazing how hard it is to keep up with the Olympics while at the Olympics.

I have about two weeks left of this 5 week journey; it’s hard to think that I’ve really been here for 3 weeks. The worst part is that now the games are going on and I’m still setting up. The Opening Ceremonies was an experience that I will treasure for the rest of my life, but it can still be frustrating to be in set up mode for 3 weeks before seeing any competitions. I look forward to Friday so much at this point.

I almost forgot to mention how cool it is to see them transform the stadium from Opening Ceremonies to Track and Field. Yesterday was our first day back after Ceremonies and it was very different. The grass for the infield was brought in on pallets on flat bed trucks, then put in place by a forklift. It was my first time seeing grass on pallets. I’ll send some pictures from yesterday, today wasn’t much different the big globe was completely torn down and the cranes weren’t there. Maybe tomorrow they’ll have all the grass down.

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Opening Ceremonies

I hope that all of you got a chance to watch the Opening Ceremonies last night.  I also hope that you thought it was a great show like I did.  I know that I was raving about it for almost a week, and hopefully didn’t build it up too much.  I was impressed with the real show, there were actually some new wrinkles that we hadn’t seen yet.

Obviously we hadn’t seen the lighting of the torch, but I had heard that someone was going to be “running” around the inside of the roof with the torch.  We were all hoping that Jackie Chan would do it just like in Rush Hour 2, but we had to settle for a concert by him afterwards.

If you didn’t know where I was, well, I was basically at turn 2 if you think of the field as a track.  When the torch and Olympic flag came out of the tunnel, that was my tunnel they came out of.  I was about 10-15 feet from the action all night long.  I saw all the athletes: Yao, Manu, Kobe, Carmelo, Dwight Howard, Tyson Gay, Tayshaun Prince, Dirk, Roger Federer and a ton of others that I obviously couldn’t pick out of a crowd.

My two favorite parts of the entire show are the drums at the beginning and the guys dressed in blue who act like boats.  The drums didn’t change anything from last time, but even seeing them three times I loved it.  It’s just so cool.  The guys in blue changed things a little bit last rehearsal, they added the part when they broke into small boats which was neat.  I think the most impressive part is when they all sit down and start rowing, then stand up and lean back even further and row.  It’s really cool to be able to see how they set up and execute the sitting down part.  One guy actually squats down on the end and faces the opposite direction while another guy leans on him.  The rest of the people then sit on the leg of the person behind them.  I just can’t get over it that they had two lines of that going the entire length of the field.  It had to have been over 120 yards, no joke.

The field itself was laid with LED lights everywhere.  If you can’t tell already they absolutely love lights here in China.  Every venue was built for night so they could have a light show.  The big panels in the middle of the floor were covered with basically plastic of fiberglass windows.  The rest of the floor had little lights every 3 feet or so.  I don’t know how much of that you saw on TV.  They had metal pieces run between them to cover up the wires.

They didn’t have fireworks for the last rehearsal and that really makes a difference.  I can’t remember exactly how many thousands of fireworks they had but I want to say it was around 13 for some reason.  205 countries.  80 heads of state.  It was an unbelievable experience, and I got to be on the field.

I want to add two notes to the end.  First, during the rehearsal they obviously don’t have the athletes march and that part takes about 30 minutes and seemed long.  Last night it took over 2 hours to get through every country.  Rehearsals were just less than 2 hours whole, last night the entire show was close to 4 hours.  Then add the pre-show which isn’t broadcasted that we sit through, we were on the field for over 6 hours.  Second, it’s always hot in Beijing, morning, afternoon, evening, it really doesn’t matter.  With all the fireworks, 90,000 people, then the torch, it was incredibly hot.  Standing on the field after everything you really can feel the heat coming off of the torch, that is how incredibly huge it really is.

What a phenomenal night, I can’t believe I was there.  4 billion people worldwide watched that show, that’s something I will never fully comprehend.

I’m sending some pics from before the Ceremonies.  Some of me, my cameraman, and others that I work with, and some of the stadium during the day.

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Photos from the dress rehearsal

These are pictures from the Olympic Green after a rehearsal for Opening Ceremonies.  The tower is called Ling Lang, it’s where some of the broadcasters are having their studio shows from.  I know CBC has a set there.  There is also a camera that will shoot the National Stadium during the Ceremonies.  I have also heard that Bush will be in the tower for Ceremonies but I don’t know for sure.

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