With the 2012 Olympic Games beginning in London, I am talking with Waste Management’s Justin Wilcock, a member of the 2004 Olympic USA Diving team. He is sharing his Summer Olympics experience in Greece and providing insights into what athletes are going through during this amazing time. We will blog through the Olympics, and we encourage readers to share their questions and comments.
What were some of your immediate thoughts when you checked in for the first time into the Olympic Village in Greece?
Checking into the village was an incredible experience. We were first shuttled to the American College of Greece where we had orientation and then got to go through outfitting. You got a shopping cart and go from one station to the next picking out all of your clothes, shoes, shirts, warm ups, and your Olympic ring. It was an incredible shopping trip!Then we headed to the village. The security was intense, but after stepping through the metal detectors, you were greeted by the flags of all the nations. This “mini” city had all the amenities you needed, including a post office, a barber, living accommodations, laundry and all the food that you would want. I remember walking through being one of the first teams to check in. It was very quiet and there were a few people walking through the streets. But from that point, people started checking in and the diversity grew. Entering the village, I felt the excitement and energy of being at the games.
What was the mood in the Olympic Village leading up to the Opening Ceremonies?
Leading up to the Opening Ceremony there was a lot of excitement. The pressure and nerves surrounding the upcoming competitions were pushed aside as everyone started entering the streets in their Opening Ceremony wear. People were taking pictures, swapping autographs and getting ready for this initiation to the Olympic Games.
Were the star athletes like the members of the U.S. Men’s Basketball team housed elsewhere? If so, did they visit the Olympic Village?The high-profile athletes, for the most part, stayed in their own accommodations. I would imagine they did visit the village as this is definitely a part of the Olympic experience. One night was memorable as they had a lounge for the U.S. Athletes in the basement of one building. The athletes would hang out and watch the events being shown on TV. Andy Roddick was there, and we got to watch some of the tennis matches with him!
You are less than 24 hours away from the start of the Olympics, what are on the minds of the athletes?
The last few days before the games start are a mix of emotions. Last minute preparations are made, but really, at this point, it is a time to relax, and let your years of training take over. The excitement of the Opening Ceremony is a nice distraction. It is also a time that the fans start to fill the Olympic city. Family members are arriving and wanting to see you and the village. They come during the day, and tour the village and spend some time with the athletes. However, all of this can also be a negative distraction. The U.S. Diving Team actually left Greece after a few days and trained in Germany, so that we could get out of the buzz of the games and train without these distractions. It’s important and often difficult for athletes to keep all of their emotions in check. This is a time that often separates the true medal contenders from those who fall short!
Blogging with an Olympian is blog series written by Waste Management employees Justin Wilcock and Joe Camero. A resident of Pleasanton, Wilcock is a Waste Management LEED Green Associate and Construction Service Account Manager. He assists contractors, builders, and architects meet their diversion/recycling goals. Wilcock also serves on the Board of Directors of USA Diving, and he is the AAC (Athletes’ Advisory Council) Representative for USA divers. A former sports editor for the Southwestern Sun, Camero is a Waste Management Communications Specialist.
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