Ryan Feinberg, print editor-in-chief
This summer I was fortunate enough to voyage to London, England, to be a spectator at the 2012 Olympic Games.
During my week in London, I watched men’s volleyball, men’s and women’s gymnastics finals, and track and field. Men’s volleyball was much different from what I had anticipated. Being an LA native, I figured watching the US team compete in an event would be exciting (at least) and rowdy (at most). This was not the case. There was no particularly dominant group of spectators from any country, and all fans were shockingly calm and respectful, clapping and slightly cheering at points.
Gymnastics finals combined four events: men’s horizontal bar, men’s parallel Bars, women’s beam, and women’s floor exercise. All were unique and mesmerizing. Men’s horizontal bar was particularly suspenseful because I kept thinking the contestants would fly off the bar, as I think many around me thought by the often gasps and uneasy mood of the crowd. Seeing Gabby Douglas, a spectator favorite, compete was awesome; the entire stadium was roaring for this portion of the competition.
I should state that as interesting as these first two events were, neither can come close to watching track and field. I have watched track and field events on television but never understood the setup of the events. Once I was there, I realized how chaotic the whole scene was. Triple jump, javelin, and 200 meter events were all simultaneously taking place. On the edge of my seat, unable to decide what to watch, I was constantly switching from one event to the next while trying to absorb the atmosphere. Seeing Usain Bolt race for Jamaica was unique in that I have never heard a louder stadium in my entire life.
I did not expect London to be as wonderfully organized as it was for the Olympics. I figured there would long lines, traffic, and generally an uncertainty about being on time and organized. The lines for the Olympic events did not exceed five minutes, traffic was minimal (main streets in the city had a lane designated for Olympic-related vehicles to lessen this problem), and I felt safe the entire time.
As a side note, the rumor of London having wretched food is, as far I am concerned, untrue. The food was delicious, the people were helpful, and the city was gorgeous. It was rainy at times and sunny at others, but for the most part it was beautiful.
I would love to see another Olympic Games. For those seriously interested in taking a trip to the Olympics, I suggest spending some amount of time at the Games, and then continue traveling to new places that are not too far from them.
“Inspire a Generation”
The Olympic Games’ official slogan was “Inspire a Generation,” and as a spectator, I can say the Games were indeed inspiring. I do not plan on taking up gymnastics or track and field after watching the Olympics, but hearing the athletes’ stories of determination and adversity did inspire me to not only be more fortunate for the opportunities I have, but to also work harder to achieve my goals. Whether or not the Games inspired an entire generation, I do not know; I can confidently say, though, that the events and athletes inspired youngsters to follow their dreams, whether that be with athletics, arts or academics.