London Log-In - Pre-Olympics
UCLA athletes, coaches, alumni and staff share their experiences at the 2012 Olympics. UCLA men's volleyball head coach John Speraw and UCLA Associate Athletic Director Mike Sondheimer checked in with stories from London prior to the beginning of competition.
July 21, 2012
The Olympics are a special and unique experience. One of the more fun and fascinating aspects are the cultural exchanges. Today while I worked out, a tiny Asian boxing coach came up to me, obviously enamored with my height. With no knowledge of English, he indicated on his hand to write how tall I was. 195 centimeters, I wrote. As his eyes got big, he stood next to me and gave me a one-armed hug. We laughed. He was from North Korea.
I finished my workout on a platform next to a Muslim athlete. She wore a full track suit with long sleeves and a hijab and could clean pull more than me.
I have been here 24 hours and have eaten Halal, African, Indian, British and Italian food. Oh, and a McFlurry.
Grateful to be in London and to have the experiences I'm having.
July 23, 2012
After some nice cultural interactions the past couple days, I was eagerly looking forward to our staff trip to the USA House in Kensington. I was optimistic about our next cross-town journey and potential new cultural Olympic experiences.
We went back down the Tube and got off near Hyde Park, London's version of Central Park. Unfortunately, we ended up on the wrong side of the park and were lost. We asked a local, but he couldn't help us. Who came next? More Romanians? A hospitable group of Brits? Nope. A family from Minnesota. "Are you guys from the U.S.?" I was wearing a bright red, white, and blue t-shirt with USA in bold letters and replied, "Yes!" enthusiastically despite my waning optimism for my next cultural story. They broke out a map and tried to help us to no avail. Despite their best effort, the only thing that got us to our destination was, of course, the iPhone.
We decided to ad-lib with a walk through the park. Culture for sure! The park was packed on this unseasonably warm day (unseasonable because I'm not sure England has a summer). I scanned for culture. All I saw were people laughing and playing, drinking Cokes and using iPhones, riding bikes and laying in the sun and walking around with their shirt off... oh, wait ... that's our assistant coach, Gary Sato.
Anyway, despite my attempt to find a new cultural experience, I had a feeling I frequently get when I travel. From India to Korea to Argentina to England, we're just not all that much different. I guess that's not surprising considering we are in a country that is so similar to ours. After all, Gary fit right in.
July 24, 2012
Greetings from London. I have arrived for my fourth Olympic Games and am excited to be a part of NBC Sports.
NBC Sports is far and away the biggest television unit here, with almost 2,500 employees. In comparison, the BBC, which has the local rights to the Olympic Games, only has around 700 people.
If you ever have a chance to fly by charter (like going on planes with the UCLA football team or basketball post-season), take advantage of the opportunity. NBC had a direct red-eye charter to London from Newark, and it was great. We got both dinner and breakfast on the plane and individual media monitors (I watched three movies I had missed that were out in the past six months in theaters), plus had no one in the middle seat.
NBC has a lot of Bruins on its crew. Former Daily Bruin Sports Editor David Gibson is producing diving. UCLA has a wide variety of NBC Color Commentators on its crew, including Ann Meyers-Drysdale for women's basketball, Cobi Jones for soccer, Tim Daggett for gymnastics, Ato Boldon and Dwight Stones for track & field, and Kevin Wong for beach volleyball.
My announcer crew for Indoor Volleyball is Paul Sunderland, who does a lot of UCLA events, and Kevin Barnett, who I work with on The Net Live internet show. We are a crew of 14 working in a facility known as Earl's Court.
The people in London have been great and were so helpful in giving me directions. I had to manage the Tube system, a train and a bus to get to the International Broadcast Center (about one hour from our venue) to get a laptop computer to use during the Olympic Games (there is no wi-fi where we will be working). While being challenged to get on the right transportation system or walk in the correct location, I completed the round trip task in 4 1/2 hours (I will be able to cut it down to 3 hours next time out).
When the USA volleyball teams practice at Earl's Court, I will look forward to seeing more Bruins. Karch Kiraly is the women's assistant coach, and both of his sons attend UCLA. John Speraw, our new men's volleyball coach, is the men's assistant coach. Our current women's coach Mike Sealy is helping out the men as a scout.
That's it for now from London as I try to adjust to my jet-lag from being up 30 hours straight.
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