A Look Back at London, Part 2: Kia

BBC UK

Hyde Park

It’s been almost a year since the London Olympics—my how time flies! To mark the occasion, we decided to pick each other’s brains about our time spent at the Olympics. Meeting people from around the world, getting swept up in the excitement—all with a camera in hand—there is one thing we both agree on: this was an experience that will never be forgotten. See part 2 here.

Sulagna: What was it like watching the Olympics at home? Especially since you knew you would join the action eventually?

Kia: My family and I are very big Olympics fans… Every two years we are glued to the television. The week before, my parents were out visiting me (in DC) and we kept popping in bars and restaurants to catch whatever was on. Of course, we were interested in all of the “big American stories”-Misty and Kerri, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, etc. But it never really hit me that I was going until I got on the plane to go to London. What SHOULD have been going through my head and wasn’t was the question “Where are all the other stories?” We are notorious for playing only American competitions, but it wasn’t until I got to London and saw other coverage that I truly became aware of the divide between what was going on and what was being shown on NBC. One huge difference I noticed was when we were watching the Games in public. In the US, there was a sense of camaraderie when Americans won; in London, it didn’t matter who did or did not win, the camaraderie was there no matter what. I suppose that’s one of the “perks” of being a host city–it’s the people in the city who really are able to feel the true Olympic spirit.

Sulagna: Oh, that is so true! Going to London makes me think of watching the Olympics so differently, especially as an American. I felt like I was missing out before, but I didn’t realize how much.

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A Look Back At London, Part 1: Sulagna

Tower Bridge

A Look Back on London During the Games

It’s been almost a year since the London Olympics—my how time flies! To mark the occasion, we decided to pick each other’s brains about our time spent at the Olympics. Meeting people from around the world, getting swept up in the excitement—all with a camera in hand—there is one thing we both agree on: this was an experience that will never be forgotten.

Kia: What did you do before you got there to prepare?

Sulagna: I looked up lots and lots and lots of events on London 2012 websites, like pub meetups or shows or anything where I would meet people to interview. That’s how I found stuff like the Unexpected Items sketch comedy show. Although, once I got there I did find a lot of places where I would go over and get nothing back, like pubs I went to where people were like “No cameras ever.”

Kia: You got to London first and were on your own for a week, what was that like?

Sulagna: When I was on my own for a week, I was kind of at a loss. I didn’t have a phone and I figured I knew how the Tube worked, but it was all so overwhelming! It helped that I had family there that gave me advice. I had to force myself to talk to more people in one day than I would talk to in a month in real life. It was terrifying, but I liked all the people I met. Well, at least the ones that would talk to me! A couple people ran away from me! That was really odd. Oh, but the nice people were SO nice. One thing that was cool was that people were always celebrating over someone winning!

Kia: What did you go there hoping to catch on camera? What were you expecting people to say? And did you walk away from your first few interviews saying “Oh this is awesome?” or “Uh oh, I’m totally off the mark!”

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Symbols of London 2012: Chris Hoy’s Imagined Community (Guest Post)

This essay is from my friend David Tobia, an undergraduate at USC taking Sports Diplomacy. More from this great class to come!

Great Britain's Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Great Britain’s Chris Hoy carries the flag during the Opening Ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

It’s 11:58 local time in London when the host nation finally enters Olympic Stadium. David Bowie’s Heroes blasts through speakers as the crowd sings “I – I will be King. And you – you will be queen.” Scottish Cyclist Sir Chris Hoy carries the British flag to honor his Olympic teammates as well as all the citizens of Hoy’s imagined community: Great Britain.

“Though nothing will drive them away. We can beat them just for one day – we can be heroes” the crowd continues, emphasizing the refrain: “We can be heroes!”

For the 2012 London Olympic Games, “we” includes 541 athletes – more than any other nation[1]. And “we” does not just include English athletes, but also Imogen Bankier, a badminton player from Glasgow, Scotland and Ryan Giggs, a 38-year old Welsh footballer revered for his illustrious career with Manchester United, who has never appeared in any major international tournament.

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Symbols of London 2012: The Power of Orange

via BBC

via BBC

The biggest defeat on the part of Team Great Britain in the London 2012 Olympics was to the Dutch. More specifically, it was to the color orange. What had been set up as a must-win for Team GB – as it was their home turf and a return to a men’s hockey semifinal match after a quarter of a century – ended up being a sound defeat, with a score of 9-2. The Dutch reveled heartily, the fans and athletes alike dressed head to toe in orange.

Was this color orange the charm that led to the defeat of Team GB? Should the win be chalked up to the Dutch blinding the Team GB athletes with their overpowering orange uniforms?

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NBC Intern Files: Emilie, Part II: “There was a photo to be taken at almost every moment”

Emilie Mateu, a USC undergraduate senior, was an NBC intern during the London Olympics this past summer. She shared her experiences on her blog, An American Frog in London. She answered several questions on her amazing experience. This is Part II; read Part I here!
The Tower Bridge (from Emilie's blog)

The Tower Bridge (from Emilie’s blog)

I saw you have some pictures from instagram! I saw a lot of pictures from the Olympics on there. Did you notice that too? Were there any you liked in particular?
The Olympics is one of the few things that almost everyone watches, so naturally all forms of social media (including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) were inundated with Olympics related content. For those of us that were lucky enough to be at the Olympics, there was a photo to be taken at almost every moment. One of my favorite photos that I took, aside from those that I took at the many events I attended was of the big Olympic rings hanging from the Tower Bridge. The Tower Bridge is so iconic of London and to see the rings hanging from it made the whole scene seem even more unreal than it already does.
Watching Phelps and Franklin win gold (from Emilie's blog)

Watching Phelps and Franklin win gold (from Emilie’s blog)

You wrote that now you prefer sports over the news. Can you expand on why?

NBC Intern Files: Emilie, Part 1: “It still seems surreal”

Emilie Mateu, a USC undergraduate senior, was an NBC intern during the London Olympics this past summer. She shared her experiences on her blog, An American Frog in London. She answered several questions on her amazing experience.

from American Frog in Paris

USC Interns fight on in Bob Costas’s Studio (from Emilie’s blog)

Why did you want to take this internship?

I would say that I was lucky to have been offered this internship! How could I not take it?! As a Broadcast Journalism major, it doesn’t get better than being offered an internship working with NBC for the Olympics. I had just studied abroad in London so I was really excited to be going back to such a fantastic city for such an epic world event. I have always loved the Olympics because it is one of the very few events that peacefully brings together people from all over the world and it still seems surreal that I was able to play a role in bringing the Olympic experience into people’s homes.

Bob Costas at London 2012 (via USA Today)

Bob Costas at London 2012 (via USA Today)

You said in your blog post, “I was called on to do everything from finding and buying 50 identical Sony headphones from three different stores, to picking up the gymnastics Director from the hospital. Andy and I would always joke that our skill sets were being used to their fullest capacities.” What are the weirdest assignments you had and why?
As far as weirdest assignments, buying 50 identical headphones was perhaps one of the most time consuming tasks I had because I had to go to three different electronic stores around London – in traffic – to find all of them. Another memorable moment (though there are many) was on a news shoot with Bob Costas. I got to go out on a lot of fun shoots and actually had to hold an umbrella over Bob Costas once when it was raining…Naturally I was the one getting rained on!

Corporate Sponsors (And Olympic Deals)

Tube Station

The corporate sponsors were inescapable during the Games.

Tube Station

Coca Cola, anyone?

Not just in advertising, but in advertising for advertising — the LOCOG made sure you knew who was paying for all the pink around the city.

Posters

All your sponsors gathered in one place!

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Exploring the London 2012 National Hospitality Houses

This is an expanded version of an article previously posted and written for PDiN Monitor as part of the University of Southern California’s Center on Public Diplomacy. See the previous version here.

The London 2012 Olympics—what an exciting place to be! Kia and I were able to experience this first hand. We found that some of the most intriguing settings were the National Hospitality Houses scattered throughout the city.

The National Hospitality Houses (NHHs) were pubs, museums, historic buildings, and parks that national Olympic committees rented for the duration of the games to …what? Well, the problem with describing all these houses is that they all had different purposes. Some, such as the USA hospitality house, were not open to the public. Continue reading

Getting Lost in London

One thing the LOCOG assured visitors of during the Games was that they would not get lost. The inevitability of this happening is based on entrance to a foreign country and the confusing differences between the UK and the US (where are the street signs? why aren’t the crosswalks at the ends of the roads? why is everyone going the wrong way?).

It’s actually pretty easy to find lost people.

See?

But basic construction of the city has made it friendlier, because you don’t have to ask for directions. Except for maybe these call centers in the Tube.

You press a button and a British voice comes out!

By putting up signs, directions, and posts that say “you are here,” being lost is not seen as a cause for alarm and embarrassment.

Signs like this were all over central London

Close-up at Baker Street

Since I took the Tube, I noticed the use of the LOCOG’s particular shade of pink to point out Olympic stadium locations.

Can you see the pink?

It was at a point that no one could get to Olympic Park without being blind.

Pink sign!

People in the UK don’t get off the train, they ALIGHT.

Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with asking for directions, and actually, the people I asked for directions were very nice, especially the volunteers. Though I can understand why people were apprehensive to ask Londoners, considering how much traffic the Olympics was supposed to bring in.

Signs like this weren’t as helpful.

However, the volunteers were also great help too. Especially after they did this to the signs.

Sign Castle!