Great Britain fans satisfied without silver

After exceeding expectations by qualifying for the men’s gymnastics team final Monday night, Great Britain’s last minute bump to bronze left the nation’s fervent fans unfazed.

“Going into the last apparatus, we would have been happy with any medal, so I think bronze is amazing,” Tom McKay of Stratford, England, said.  “If it’s a fair question of the judging, then so be it. We respect their opinion.”

The scoreboard above the North Greenwich Arena stadium revealed China as the gold-medal champion, with Great Britain and the Ukraine following in second and third place—but not for long.

Great Britain fans cheer on the men’s gymnastics team after the final scores are announced. Photo by Kaitlynn Grady

The silver medal slipped away from the team after a Japanese appeal, which raised Japan’s score 0.241 points ahead of Great Britain and bumped the Ukraine out of the top three.

Despite the demotion, cheers of victory echoed from the stands as the crowd watched the men collect medals for the first time since the 1912 Olympic Games.

Based on Great Britain’s unsuccessful past and this year’s fierce competitors, Juliet Levinson from London, England said simply making the finals was a huge accomplishment.

“When they were getting into bronze medal position, we were on the edge of our seats,” Levinson said. “It was a shame it wasn’t a silver, but, hey, the expectation wasn’t there at all to get anything.”

Though China dominated the competition with a final score nearly five points ahead of the second and third places, Great Britain kept pace with Japan and Ukraine throughout.

The team is comprised of five members, including Kristian Thomas, Daniel Purvis, Louis Smith, Sam Oldham and Max Whitlock.

“It was absolutely nail-biting,” Robert Heard from London said. “The British can be really, really proud of what the guys have done today.”

The team’s shocking success not only ended the gymnastics drought, but it may also help portray the nation as a serious competitor during future games, Heard added.

“It’s just an amazing boost for the country,” Heard said. “Hopefully the London Games will inspire the next generation even more than the other games that have taken place around the world.”

Men’s Artistic Gymnastics

Athletes from China, Russia, Germany, France, Japan, Great Britain and the United States took the stage Monday at North Greenwich Stadium to compete in the men’s artistic gymnastics final. Fans from across the globe filled the stands to cheer on each team and watch the heated competition. In the end, China came out on top as the gold-medal champion followed by Japan and Great Britain in second and third place. Initially, Great Britain scored the silver medal, but after a Japanese appeal, the team was bumped down to bronze and Russia was demoted from the top three.

It’s a party in the USA, I mean, UK

Sunday: After a missed flight, chicken dinner with Saheed, my Indian friend on flight 98, and 8 hours of misery, I made it to Heathrow airport in London. I’m not going to address the missed flight; it’s a touchy subject. A tired, exhausted Melissa made it through customs and was more than delighted to see all of her fellow Bobcats patiently waiting for her as she entered the UK.  As we made our way to the bus that picked us up, I realized I already liked a lot of people on my trip. Everyone looked tired, but excited, ready to take on whatever was thrown our way. I enjoy the E.W Scripps School of Journalism so much because I truly think that when a group of us get together we get inspired and encourage each other to be our best.

We all piled on the bus, barely fitting, and “Maaaaatin” took us to Guildford, where the University at which we are staying is. “Maaaaatin” is my spelling of the english name “Martin”. I think everyone is very annoyed with us trying to do the british accent…

After unpacking and taking a much needed shower, we got some goods from the store and prepared to head to dinner. This pizza place was so old school and traditional. It was a nice change of pace from the typical Goodfellas or Little Caesars Hot and Ready that I usually stick to. The dinner really made me realize what sweet people I’m with. I enjoy their company. I’m interested to see what these next weeks bring, and what they bring out of everyone.

On Monday: We went into the heart of London!! I honestly fell in love once I got off the train. The lifestyle there just excites me. We got on the double decker bus and began to tour the city. If you friend me on facebook you can check out some of the pictures! It was incredible. I have never seen anything like London. I love the tradition, the character and the spunk the city has. I notice people around here have a funky style and way about themselves. It’s not like they are that different but they stand out a lot more in their fashions and hairstyles. In fact, I think it is so interesting how we analyze other cultures. I mean, they look different, but at the end of the day I realize, we are all the same, we have the same insides, aspirations, dreams, emotions, etc. I never thought much about the world that existed outside the United States, at least not in this kind of depth. I love people. I love knowing what makes someone tick. I have already realized three days into this trip that journalism is what i’m meant for.

Anyhoo, we made it to the London Tower! As you can see below, my fellow bobcat, Katie and I had a quick photo opp, then we walked up to the bridge. We walked into a protest! The protest was being done by the UCG, the United Cabbies Group. They are fighting to get their roads back for the Olympic games. This is due to them not being allow to pick up any pedestrians because their lane is strictly being used for the games. I loved this story! It is one I have been wanting to do for weeks. We arrived at the perfect time. I went ahead and did an interview with one of the protesters. I was so proud of myself for taking the bull by the horns and just diving right in. I talked with a very disgruntled cabbie driver about his situation. Stay tuned for that story; it is in progress! I did try and speak with the police but they said they cannot speak with me directly, so I am working on calling their media office for more information.

They were overall really nice officers, and they were real with me.

As the week progressed we went to Stonehenge, Brighton, Bath, and Oxford! They are all such beautiful places. I really enjoyed our travels this week, before all the harder work starts!

Did you know….

  • Stonehenge was constructed in three phases.
  • It has been estimated that the three phases of the construction required more than 30 million hours of labour.
  • Speculation on the reason it was built range from human sacrifice to astronomy.
  • Yeah, me neither. I did a paper about Stonehenge for an art class this past year. I never understood all the fuss about these seemingly stupid rocks all piled together, but after seeing it in person, it was overwhelmingly interesting.

Katie and I found out that doing our sororities symbol actually might be considered “flipping someone the bird” over here. We probably should stop doing that!

Below are some pictures of the beautiful city of Bath! It was so traditional and classic, thats how most cities over here are i’ve noticed. We enjoyed a beautiful day of shopping and being typical tourists. We got a delicious lunch at this place called Cafe Retro. I would recommend it to anyone. Their food  is awesome, and the waitresses were so sweet. After lunch we even got to tour the legendary Roman baths! It was unreal.

  • Johnny Depp owns one of these!The Baths!

    It was a great experience to get to tour the Roman Baths! We even got to try the water!

    Last night was opening ceremonies. That experience can’t even be described in words. It was beautiful in so many ways. It made me love my country even more and appreciate other ones as well. There was something in the air last night, everyone was going crazy. It was completely acceptable. The city was glowing, I’m in love.

    Go team USA!

    Until next time, love from Bobcats in the UK.

The power of sports

Sports are kind of funny.

In one sense, they can build up walls, sparking rivalries that divide entire communities of people. Then again, they can also act as tools for toppling those same walls to the ground.

Growing up a die-hard Bengals fan in Cincinnati, Ohio I have spent my entire life following sports with that first point of view in mind— I loath the city of Pittsburgh and its godforsaken football team. I always have and I always will.

Crowds of people squeezed into Sloan Square in London on Friday to view the Opening Ceremony on a public screen.
Photo by Jillian Fellows

Over the past several days, however, I’ve had a chance to see the brighter side of rivalry and witness firsthand the positive impact that a little friendly competition can have on the world. The Olympics are incredible not only because of the athletic talent on display, but because of their ability to unite.

Consider, for example, Saturday’s men’s cycling road race. When Iranian cyclist Amir Zargari lost control of his bike and fell hard to the concrete, the entire world gasped. It didn’t matter that he was a man. It didn’t matter that he was Iranian. All that mattered was that he was human, and that he was laying it all out there on the course.

Political unrest and social dispute never cease to tear us apart, but at least the Olympics never fail to bring us back together.

That’s the real power of sports.

Community and the Olympics

The Olympic Women’s Cycling Road Race held Sunday gave communities outside of London the opportunity to get involved in the Games. The Race ran through multiple cities and towns, giving spectators a chance to see an Olympic event in their home towns.

Cycling through the trends

DORKING, SURREY — All of Britain’s recent cycling success has made the sport the country’s new national pastime, organizers and spectators at the women’s cycling road race said Sunday.

“I think because of our success in GB, but also it’s very dramatic, even though you only see them briefly, the speed they come by you, you realize how fast they are going.” Robert Collis, a Games Advisor from Luton, Bedfordshire, said “And it brings all the people together, masses come out because you are seeing your champions in your streets.”

The men failed to deliver on Saturday, and it was with nervous hearts and dampened clothes that the spectators returned to line the Surrey Hill roads that made up the 140 km race on Sunday. British rider Lizzie Armistead didn’t disappoint, capturing the silver medal in a furious sprint at the end. Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won the gold, while Olga Zabelinskaya of Russia took the bronze.

Justin Bush, Dorking, Surrey said he was not going to let the stormy weather and the disappointing results from the men stop him from watching the women’s race in his hometown.

“It’s so exciting to have something this big come through our hometown.” Bush said. “Overall, we make quite a bit (of an) effort to get out of here for this sport (cycling).”

Zabelinskaya forced some of the group to breakaway from the peloton when she made her move at Headley, approximately 40 miles away from the Mall. As they came down the final stretch in London, Zabelinskya faded back into third, while Vos and Armitstead sprinted for gold.

Tony Frede of Dorking, Surrey, who was wearing spandex biking gear, a helmet and biking gloves, summed up cycling in the U.K.

“You think I’m a cyclist?” he asked. “I only have two bikes; most have six.”

The world is watching

It is the second full day of the Olympics, and I must say I love every minute of it. It is amazing how this event has literally brought the whole world together. Everyone is watching.

According to BBC, there were more than 27 million viewers in the United Kingdom watching the Opening Ceremonies, and according to NBC, there were more than 40.7 million viewers in the United States.

A Brazil super fan interviews with a Spanish television station. The Jesus figure on his head has a 2014 sash on it, representing the country’s hope for a World Cup win then.

Since the first day that we got here one week ago, it has been amazing to see how all of the different cultures have come together and blended for this competition. It is a time for everyone to set aside any differences that they have may for the love of the Games.

When we went to Olympic Park on the day of Opening Ceremonies, it was astonishing to see how many people were there. There were so many people from different walks of life. I actually did not see very many Americans present, maybe a handful, but I might have been looking right at them.

There were super fans from Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, Holland, Canada and one particular guy from Great Britain who was getting all the television interviews. There were news stations from all over the world as well, with hundreds of different languages flying in every direction. I wish I could say that I understood more of them, but aside from a few words of French that I could pick up, there wasn’t much that I could comprehend. I must admit that I have been living in somewhat of a bubble in Northeast Ohio, and then again in Athens. Besides Canada, I have not ventured outside of the U.S., so coming over here was a big culture shock for me.

This super fan from Great Britain was a favorite before Opening Ceremonies. He was the subject of many photo opportunities and television interviews.

I think that I am still trying to get over some of the fashion trends (or figure them out just in general), and I really don’t understand some of the foods (still can’t get over the not-free refills). Adding hundreds of other countries to the mix for this event – talk about a completely different experience.

The point I’m trying to get at is we all live in our own little worlds, and it’s very easy to get caught up in them, especially since the United States can be so isolated from the rest of the world (location-wise). An event like this is something indescribable, and it shows you that there is so much more out there and just how united a world can become through the love of a common denominator – sports.

That is a powerful thing.

Cause they’ve got one hand in my pocket

Ever since I knew I would be packing up my baseball hats and flip flops to go be THAT American in London and cover the Olympics, I have been looking forward to the opening ceremonies. With the mixing of different cultures, the excitement that overtakes the crowd and my brand new sequined American flag hat, nothing seemed more intriguing to me.

After four days of touring the U.K. my eagerness for the games to begin was growing. When the time came to take a train from our flat in Guildford to Trafalgar Square in London, it was all I could do to not run up and down the train aisle in a victory lap.

At the square, all I could see was a swarm of patriotic foreigners and in the distance two young men sitting with an American flag on top of a lion statue. Obviously I beelined for what I now saw was the U.S. Embassy, and as we all sang “God Bless America” to a crowd of around a thousand people I realized that every American is actually THAT American.

In the height of my patriotism I spotted an American flag shirt across the street that I thought would be perfect to wear later on to celebrate not only the opening ceremonies but also my birthday that began in T minus 3 hours. As I was about to make my purchase I reached into my satchel and found an empty pocket where my credit card and driver’s license were usually cozied up, and then it hit me: I was pickpocketed.

At first I thought I was going to pull out my inner Liam Neeson (as he is in the movie “Taken”) on whoever kidnapped my things, but the sad realization of my nonexistent FBI skills began to set in. After hyperventilating for a good three minutes, I looked on the ground where I was standing and frantically began to retrace my steps with my classmates in tow.

I ran back to the fellow Americans who, five minutes before were our friends, but were now all suspects on trial as I drilled them with accusations of pickpocketing me. Much to my dismay, all I got in return were chants of “U.S.A.” and “AMUURICA.”

My peers began to make a plan of attack to find my things and/or the culprit so we split up and covered every inch of the 100-yard radius we had been in. Finally, it sunk in that my ID and credit card were as gone as boy bands were after 2005. The next step was to call my dad who, when I explained the awful predicament, when I asked him what I should do said, “Get a job.”

After canceling my card that night, I decided that until my dad could wire me money all I could do was try to enjoy a broke birthday and be as nice as possible to my classmates who were now my walking bank until Tuesday when I would get my ATM card. By the end of the night however I was back in Guildford watching the opening ceremonies with birthday wishes bombarding my phone and a big smile on my face. It wasn’t your traditional first taste of the Olympics, but is anything good without a little bit of zest?

London’s Games Budget: Cost of the Olympics May Be Worth It

LONDON – Despite reports of mounting Olympic costs, London’s residents said they see enough benefits to offset the expense.

Mark Daily of Horsham, UK said that the games will not only help the economy, but benefit the people of the country.

“It can be argued that people could spend their money on something better, but on what exactly?,” he asked. “You really just have to look around you. Look at people’s faces. They are loving every single minute of it.”

Even though a recent study  said morale would not improve much in the British workplace, Daily said the Olympics could jump start spending.

“You want to get the economy moving and get people feeling better about themselves,” he said. “It is a lift that people need.”

Even business owners who have had to shut down for parts of the Olympics due to massive crowds and busy streets still believe they will make a profit from the Games.

“Because of all the hype we have been busy. Things have picked up,” said Jose Codaba of Dorking. “In general things have picked up in the last couple of months.”

Games directors have said that many of the venues will remain as sites for other athletic events in the future to help revitalize the east side of London. For example, the Olympic stadium,  the Aquatic Centre, the Handball Arena, the Hockey Centre and the Velodrome will all stay after the games to promote athletics and recreation in London.

“It is worth it because a lot of corporate investment is going on here. This has become so popular,” said Bill Weursfuld of Surrey. “People from Europe will want to visit the UK to see where this is all happening and where it happened and we have had such a huge television audience it will create a lot of tourism.”

Seven years ago, when London was chosen, the government promised a budget that was much smaller than the current budget of 9.3 billion pounds (roughly 14.6 billion American dollars). This number is about four times the initial budget projection of 2.4 billion pounds and much of the late additions have come for games security. However, now projections show that the games may come in slightly under the latest budget.

Concerns have risen with a turbulent European economy that the London Games could eventually hurt the British economy. The 2004 Games in Athens, Greece are still being paid off and are considered one of the reasons that Greece was sent into such financial problems.