So many thanks are in order: First, to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, which employs inspiring professors and faculty who have been essential towards instilling a lifelong passion for multimedia and storytelling, and is also the establishment where I earned my bachelors degree. Secondly, Hans Meyer and Yusuf Kalyango, who have assisted me in countless ways through out my college career and especially in the last three months as I worked to plan my trip across the pond. And finally, the Scripps study abroad program in London, directed by Professor Meyer, which is the driving force and credentials I needed to gain access to amazing and rare opportunities at the 2012 London games, including getting acquainted with the incredible athletes on Team USA.
No Such Thing as a Lazy Sunday
On Sunday, August 5, I was able to attend a Taekwondo practice, where I was privileged enough to witness Diana Lopez in action. Diana Lopez, already an Olympic champion, winning the bronze for the U.S. in Beijing, is going for gold this time around. Her concentration and determination were radiating through out the practice facilities located at the SportsDock training centre at the University of East London. Practice started off slow, with warm-ups, stretches, and the like. It didn’t take long for the session to really heat up. Diana was fierce and focused as she worked with trainer, Charlotte Craig, also a Beijing Olympiad who looks forward to competing in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
It wasn’t just Diana Lopez’s focus that was inspiring, but the fact that she, along with her three brothers, put a whole new meaning behind the mantra of teammates feeling like family. Diana’s brother, Steven Lopez, 33, will also be competing in the 2012 Olympics. The other two Lopez brothers include, Jean, 38, who is also the head coach for Team USA Taekwondo, and Mark, 30, who competed in 2008 at Beijing, bringing home a silver medal for the US, was beaten out for a spot in the London games by Diana and Steven’s teammate, Terrence Jennings, 26. The Lopez family is recognized as the “first family of Taekwondo” and has made history, as each of them has worked to achieve the highest levels of athleticism. I was feeling incredibly fortunate and inspired at the opportunity to sit in with Diana and Coach Jean on Sunday.
Diana moved not only with fierceness and intensity, but she was also stunning and graceful. I was curious as to whether she had cross trained or had previous experience in dance. Jean told me that while Diana had no experience dancing, she does have a solid background in volleyball, which he encouraged her to pursue, but her heart was in taekwondo. The Lopez family, as a whole, prefers playing soccer to break up their workouts in the Korean martial art of taekwondo, according to Jean. I wasn’t completely off track believing dance would give taekwondo fighters an edge. Paige McPherson, 21, another member of the 2012 USA Taekwondo team, traded in her ballet slippers for a black belt after watching her older brother, Evan, compete in the sport.
Competition for the fighters begins Wednesday, August 8 in London. Be sure to check your listings and tune in [USA on NBC].
Women’s Basketball: A Great Group with Great Attitude
Monday, August 6, I was back at the University of East London in the SportsDock practice center. This time around, I was there to observe as the USA women’s basketball team took to the hardwood. I had a lot of fun shooting b-roll and still photos as the women practiced plays and perfected shots. There was high energy and enthusiasm, it was contagious. After the women finished running plays Jenna Stenger, Colin Brown, and I were able to meet and greet the incredible athletes making up the 2012 USA women’s basketball team.
Jenna kicks things off with Sylvia Fowles.
Colin takes the lead as he interviews guard, Sue Bird.
USA Women’s Basketball faces Team Canada on August 7 at 2 p.m. GMT, in the quarterfinals. Be sure to tune in and cheer this talented and congenial group on!
Thank you to all the members, coaches, and athletes from Team USA Taekwondo and Women’s Basketball! It was incredible having the chance to observe you in your element, sit down and chat, and take part in the 2012 London Games. I am looking forward to what’s ahead! Cheers!