MeFi Olympians? July 30, 2012 3:21 PM   Subscribe

Are there any MeFi Olympians? Olympics involved MeFites?
posted by bystander to MetaFilter-Related at 3:21 PM (318 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

I went to go see the '96 Olympics when I was 10. In the Olympic park, there were lots of little sports demos for you to try out your skills. It was pretty sweet. There was one station with a punching bag that you got to punch. When I punched it, I actually punched it off it's supports and it rolled out into the crowd. My parents have suggested the possibility that the bag was loose to begin with, but I'm pretty sure I was a child boxing prodigy, which pretty much makes me an honorary Olympic champion. I'll be signing autographs at the next meetup. You're welcome.
posted by phunniemee at 3:29 PM on July 30, 2012 [43 favorites]


I was in the Science Olympiad!

That totally counts, right?
posted by charmcityblues at 3:34 PM on July 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


I'm pretty sure I was a child boxing prodigy, which pretty much makes me an honorary Olympic champion.

You should've entered the 100 meter hurdles and just punched everyone until you were the last one standing. Easy win.
posted by item at 3:36 PM on July 30, 2012 [24 favorites]


This is where I admit that I had to look up Olympic track & field events for my last comment, because I didn't know any actual races.
posted by item at 3:38 PM on July 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


I had a chance to compete for Great Britain in the Curling but I got cold feet.
posted by tigrefacile at 3:42 PM on July 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


With all due respects, I can't imagine an Olympian athlete of any kind, sitting on his/her ass all day & surfing Metafilter
posted by growabrain at 3:44 PM on July 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


I know a guy who was in the Olympics, a mathematician-wrestler. Does that count?
posted by madcaptenor at 3:46 PM on July 30, 2012


growabrain: With all due respects, I can't imagine an Olympian athlete of any kind, sitting on his/her ass all day & surfing Metafilter

You must've forgotten about John Isner.
posted by gman at 3:50 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


growabrain: “With all due respects, I can't imagine an Olympian athlete of any kind, sitting on his/her ass all day & surfing Metafilter”

Oh, come on. I mean, I understand where you're coming from, but at least some Olympic athletes have to be as cool as us.
posted by koeselitz at 3:51 PM on July 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


I have a friend who's cousin is a diver for GB. That's as close as I'll ever get.

Oh yeah, and I watched the Archery World Cup which had the Olympic Qualifying here in my hometown. I wrote an article about it for our local blog and got to wear a press pass and weird press vest. That was cool. The USA team coach yelled at me (nicely) when I got in his way while I was in the photographers section, then the announcer yelled at me when I was trying to get out of the coach's way. It was awesome.
posted by TooFewShoes at 4:00 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


In the summer of '86, I made breakfast every day for the U.S. national rowing teams. And I have a cousin who was on the junior national swim team in the 70s, but he burned out and quit swimming.
posted by rtha at 4:02 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My cousin Sean Furey is competing in Men's Javelin!

The family is SO VERY EXCITED! And given that javelin is one of the few sports that competitors get better at in their mid-30s (at least the men do, from what I can gather), he may be able to compete in the 2016 Olympics, as well.
posted by xingcat at 4:03 PM on July 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


One of my friends got hit on by a member of the 2000 men's gymnastics team at a party. According to her, he had a huge ego and was a real asshole to her plus-sized friend. He mentioned the Olympics about ten times in the course of their ten-minute conversation. She said that he was short but had enormous arms and kind of scrawny legs.

There you go, my touch with Olympic glory. I knew a girl who met an Olympian once.
posted by Elly Vortex at 4:13 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


2 years ago, I set the record for most situps in one minute at the gym.

For 3 days, I was a god.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:24 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My name is engraved on one of the volunteer poles at Homebush in Sydney. And I cried through the post-Games parade for the volunteers when little old ladies and cute little kids cheered and thanked us. And then I got horribly drunk at some awful pub in Woolloomoloo and had to endure a bus ride back to Canberra with some people who, frankly, I had already spent the previous three weeks of my life despising.

Does that count?

Until they make whinging-bitching-and-moaning-about-volunteering an Olympic sport, I guess that's as close as I'll ever get.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:27 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


No see the thing to do is to turn Metafiltering into an Olympic event.
posted by The Whelk at 4:28 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


A decade after Innsbruck games, I stood on its luge track. I had an irrational fear that a sled would come along and kill me.

Citius, Altius, Fortius!
posted by Egg Shen at 4:31 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This young lady has the sassy appeal of a MeFite.
posted by ColdChef at 4:32 PM on July 30, 2012 [16 favorites]


I have been practicing to compete in the Fridge-to-Couch relay, but I doubt I'll get a spot on the team. I keep spilling my beer.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:33 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


My sister won the gold medal for the 1984 Olympic Youth Art Contest. We were flown out to L.A. for a medal ceremony that culminated in a photo-op with Sam the Eagle, who draped one wing around my sister and her championship medal, and the other wing around me (age 15) and my championship sulk.
posted by scody at 4:43 PM on July 30, 2012 [14 favorites]


I don't think she's a Mefite, but Jordan Jesse Go fans are all cheering for Canadian pentathlete Donna Vakalis. She's going to wear the Maximum Fun rocketship on her pentathloning uniform, and it was just announced that she'll be leading a workshop at MaxFunCon.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:45 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I've also had sexual fantasies about Mary Lou Retton.

Does that count?
posted by Egg Shen at 4:53 PM on July 30, 2012


Yeah, definitely can't imagine an Olympic athlete doing something like going online all day long to post pics on Instagram.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:53 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My high school boyfriend was a powerlifter in the Paralympics. A quick google search told me he competed in Sydney and Athens as well as Atlanta.
posted by peppermind at 4:54 PM on July 30, 2012


From further down the "Same the Eagle" link above:

A Catalan sheepdog from a Cubist's fever dream, Cobi was the rare animated character whose nudity made you flinch. (Considered among the "Best" Olympic Mascots)
posted by Scientist at 4:58 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am an exceptional toe wrestler, but cannot participate in the Olympics, as I have done it professionally. They even made a movie of my story, called "Over the Top" and starring Sylvester Stallone as a ficitonalized version of me. Of course, they changed it to arm wrestling and made a lot of other changes, such as giving me a son and ignoring my work as a playwright.

What bothered me most is that they didn't even consult me about any of this. They didn't even tell me the movie was getting made. No, I just go to see a Stallone movie one day, and there it is, my life, with almost every important detail changed.

I also had this experience with "The English Patient" and "Fog of War."
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:04 PM on July 30, 2012 [25 favorites]


I used to do theater and play soccer with the daughter of an Olympic race walker who was disqualified very close to the end of the World Championships for having both feet leave the ground at the same time. She then went on to come in 31st in Beijing. She was the speaker at my induction to the National Honors Society in high school. While she was a very nice lady in startling shape, it was not the most inspirational speech ever.
posted by ChuraChura at 5:04 PM on July 30, 2012


Ask.me features some naked wrestling (in the ancient Greek style), maybe try over there?
posted by blue_beetle at 5:06 PM on July 30, 2012


She said that he was short but had enormous arms and kind of scrawny legs.

Was he furry?
posted by homunculus at 5:12 PM on July 30, 2012


I've had my photo taken with two guys who work with an Olympic gold medalist.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 5:16 PM on July 30, 2012


I have done Archery at the Sydney Olympic Park. But it was 11 years after the Olympics ended. Hope that counts.
posted by vidur at 5:17 PM on July 30, 2012


Previously. The consensus was that we will not have a massive contingent in the Parade of Nations.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:31 PM on July 30, 2012


I beat QWOP once.
posted by Metroid Baby at 5:31 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


I beat QWOP twice. I can beat QWOP any day, any time. (GIRP, though...)
posted by phunniemee at 5:34 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I worked a booth selling shit during the 96 Olympics, does that count? It was an Olympic event surviving that heat.
posted by strixus at 5:39 PM on July 30, 2012


I am a certified gold medalist in Egregious Procrastination

it was made of chocolate
posted by elizardbits at 5:44 PM on July 30, 2012 [17 favorites]


I used to do theater and play soccer with the daughter of an Olympic race walker

Race-walking has to be there for weirdest sports ever. I mean, no disrespect those peeps are as fit - and often faster - than a marathoner.

But essentially, it seems at the elite level, it's more a concentration test than anything else. Hours and hours of going as fast as you whilst still walking, whispering to yourself no doubt: "Don't fuck it up! Don't fuck it up!"

One momentary lapse that would provide almost no real racetime advantage, and you're gone. Also, it seems the sport begs for electronics; a machine would be so much more effective at picking the "runners", than a legion of eagle-eyed inspectors.
posted by smoke at 5:44 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I frequently eat cheeseburgers in Centennial Olympic Park.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:46 PM on July 30, 2012


Someday they will introduce the "Overthinking" sport and every last competitor will be a MeFite.

... if they can put poker on sports channels then surely, someday....
posted by cmyk at 5:47 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, there are Olympics this year? When?
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:49 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I took a tour of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal a few years ago.
posted by briank at 5:49 PM on July 30, 2012


Brent Hayden lives three doors down from my apartment. I didn't realize this until this week. I just thought he was some bald guy.
posted by beepbeepboopboop at 5:51 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does Mike Phelps count?
posted by unliteral at 6:07 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I stood on top of the Lillehammer ski jump. I didn't jump, as there was no snow and I was in evening wear. This was some years after the Lillehammer winter games.
posted by research monkey at 6:08 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


We were in the same community as the Tewksbury family back when I was in grade school, but I didn't know Mark personally.

...
Now I'm wondering what events we would hold at the Metafilter Olympics. So far all I've got is Synchronized Snarking.
posted by ceribus peribus at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


They built the London Olympic Village at the end of our street, which put us "in" the Olympics way, way more than we wanted to be. Nothing to the left of the A112 or north of the overhead railway lined you can see there existed; it was an industrial wasteland, and everything you can see there was built in the last seven years.

We had barely survived the construction of the Eurostar tunnel they'd just finished the week before it was announced London had won the 2012 bid, and were pretty sure construction of the Olympic Village would be 7 years of hell. We packed up and moved to Ireland a month later.

Yes, the view from our roof would have been unbelievable and we've been pretty nostalgic this week, but on reflection we would have medalled in competitive construction as an enurance sport, and really, I'm OK leaving that to the Chinese.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:18 PM on July 30, 2012


I'm not an Olympian, but my friend has a dog named Hermes!
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 6:37 PM on July 30, 2012


The Olympics are on?
posted by cjorgensen at 6:39 PM on July 30, 2012


Olympics connections:

A friend of mine works with a medalist in fencing (2004 or '08, I think?). Have never met said fencer myself, though.

I once had a run in with the Chinese women's gymnastics team in an airport. It was sort of surreal. This would have been summer of '07, so probably the kids who competed in the Beijing Olympics? Then again I have no idea how the Chinese gymnastics program works, so no idea if being an elite National Championships type gymnast one year means China will follow through with sending you to the Olympics the next year. I often wonder what happened to those girls.

In Macchu Picchu Pueblo, Peru, in 2010, I met a woman who was training for the current Olympics in a horseback riding related event. Dressage? I'm not sure whether she is actually in London competing right now, but she was one of the top US hopefuls at the time. That girl totally kicked my ass in climbing Huayna Picchu, though. If walking up extremely steep and slippery steps at extreme altitudes with no handrails ever becomes an Olympic sport, she is a shoe in.
posted by Sara C. at 6:57 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I stood on top of the Lillehammer ski jump. I didn't jump, as there was no snow and I was in evening wear. This was some years after the Lillehammer winter games."

Did you think for just a moment that maybe, maybe, you were in a scene from a James Bond movie?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:59 PM on July 30, 2012 [19 favorites]


I skied at Whistler during the Paralympics and can recommend it. Everyone was watching the competitors at Creekside whilst we had the rest of the two mountains to ourselves.

During the week we had several of the chair skiers blast past us on black runs and I am in utter and complete awe as they made us look like we're were standing still. Completely fearless.
posted by arcticseal at 7:10 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I got to go to the Atlantic Olympic opening ceremonies in 96, I don't care what ANYONE says, when you were there live and those chrome trucks came flying in, it was thrilling!!! One of the best times I've ever had!! Also, my brother was a ball boy for the tennis venue of the same games. Had a great time and he got some serious swag!!
posted by pearlybob at 7:13 PM on July 30, 2012


Now I'm wondering what events we would hold at the Metafilter Olympics. So far all I've got is Synchronized Snarking.
  • 4 × 100 metres pile-on relay
  • AskMe answer pentathlon (get therapy, leave your significant other, it's still OK to eat, don't go to law school, "All Summer in a Day" by Ray Bradbury)
  • 1500 metre freestyle liberal guilt
  • Super-heavyweight strawman boxing
posted by strangely stunted trees at 7:15 PM on July 30, 2012 [37 favorites]


I was in the Forum when Nadia Comaneci got her perfect score. She was a little, whirling blur way down there and then the place went wild. Honestly, I had no idea what was going on until someone told me - they were all so small, so far away.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:16 PM on July 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was in the Forum when Nadia Comaneci got her perfect score. She was a little, whirling blur way down there and then the place went wild. Honestly, I had no idea what was going on until someone told me - they were all so small, so far away.

That's still pretty damn cool, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:18 PM on July 30, 2012


My colleague Boris's son Mark is competing this year.
posted by scruss at 7:21 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My boyfriend's best friend from childhood's husband has won medals in the most recent winter olympics. We went to their wedding which was attended by a bunch of other people who were in the most recent winter olympics. It was a fun wedding.
posted by sciencegeek at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2012


Yes: Apollo, Artemis, Athena, Hades, Hermes, and Zeus.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:39 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Oh hey, you can throw this pointy stick the farthest? Here's your gold medal!
posted by Brocktoon at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2012


At the 1996 games, there was a small opening ceremony for the soccer competition which started several days before the games officially opened. It was held in Birmingham, Alabama. My sister and I were flag bearers, and I carried the flag of Bahrain. I was twelve.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:42 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Oh hey, you can throw this pointy stick the farthest? Here's your gold medal!"

Yeah, it's not like throwing a spear is a practical skill or anything. Talk about arbitrary.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:52 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


ColdChef: This young lady has the sassy appeal of a MeFite.

Thank you for posting the video -- the Olympics worker was brilliant and made me laugh, and I really lost it when she started talking about Facebook and her mother.

scody: My sister won the gold medal for the 1984 Olympic Youth Art Contest.

Your sister's poster is terrific! (Reading about the art contest reminded me of an elementary school class assignment I had -- to draw a poster highlighting the Winter Olympics in some way -- and having a hard time figuring out what to draw. It was just for our class, not an official contest or anything.)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 8:06 PM on July 30, 2012


My tenuous connection: long ago, I was on the same teams as some Olympians. Alas, I was not among them!
posted by skye.dancer at 8:08 PM on July 30, 2012


I have been in a swimming pool. But not recently.
posted by pwally at 8:14 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I really didn't want to do this, but all the jokey-jokes above combined with the evident sincerity of your original question leave me no choice but to finally reveal that I am, in actuality, Lebron James.

Sshh, please don't tell everyone I'm on here. It's so hard to be anonymous for me.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:21 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


My cousin is in Team GB, playing handball.

It's not going so great so far, but he's one of the few actual handball players on the squad.
posted by randomination at 8:23 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine was a part of the stage management team for the opening ceremonies. It's been fun looking at the pictures on facebook.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 8:24 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once saw the ski jump from some decades past Winter Olympics in the mountains above Innsbruck.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:30 PM on July 30, 2012


I was a producer during NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics and made a lot of the cheesy 'flavor of the city" pieces - you know, the "US fencing team faces off... in karaoke!" "BMX bikers race rickshaws!" "US Basketball players climb the Great Wall!" "China discovers CHEERLEADING!" That kind of thing.

You have to wear a lot of press passes around your neck when you're running around the premises. Lesson learned: too many lanyards + button down shirt means that you might end up interviewing some basketball players and coaches with your blouse basically totally open down the front. Does that count as "Olympics involved?"

But my true claim to Olympic fame was partying at the Heineken hospitality house one night during the Games with thousands of happy, strapping, joyfully drunk Dutch people. One of the dangers of not being a tall athletic Dutch person at Heineken House is that you are generally too short for them to make any observation or accommodation of your presence, especially when it is really, really crowded.

And that is how I ended up, for a few interminable seconds, on the dancefloor with my head fully wedged into the armpit of the Dutch long distance swimming gold medalist Maarten van der Weijden. I don't think he even noticed.
posted by sestaaak at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2012 [54 favorites]


I went to the 96 games in Atlanta. I was fairly newly pregnant with my now 15-year-old son and I can tell you for sure that I won several gold medals for heat exhaustion, vomiting, and fainting.

Also, we sat one row behind Brooke Shields during an Agassi match. She was delightful. And ridiculously beautiful.
posted by cooker girl at 8:31 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


he's one of the few actual handball players on the squad

Wait, so there are Olympic sports you can just, like, sign up for? For fun? With no significant past experience doing that sport?

How does one get to do this?
posted by Sara C. at 8:36 PM on July 30, 2012


I ran a half mile this morning.

What? It's a start.

Sheesh.

posted by gauche at 8:37 PM on July 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


I lived across the street from Montreal's Olympic Stadium. This was many decades after the Games, but, incidentally, right around the time we finally paid for the stadium in full.
posted by third word on a random page at 8:38 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I went to college with the sister of a guy who was on the Olympic equestrian team at some point. But I was on scholarship.
posted by scratch at 8:56 PM on July 30, 2012


Wait, so there are Olympic sports you can just, like, sign up for? For fun? With no significant past experience doing that sport?

As far as I understand it, Team GB entered a handball squad that was largely made out of players from a 'search for young talent' which they then trained, along with a couple of actual Scandinavian handball players who qualified because one parent was British. My cousin falls into the latter category.

I think you do have to be somewhat athletic and willing to put in enormous work to make the squad, so I don't know if I would call it 'for fun,' especially since Britain's first match was against world champions France and with the exception of my 6ft 7in cousin the physical mismatch looked painfully like hobbits vs. Nazgul.
posted by randomination at 9:05 PM on July 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


I went to a very sporty college and was friends with a few Olympians. I, however, got my gold medal in journalistic drinking. I only acquantaince-know one person competing this year, but as I've aged out of having peers as Olympians, I've aged into having college friends from the (very sports-oriented) newspaper as senior enough sportswriters to report from the Olympics. I am living vicariously through their facebook updates.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:18 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The entire U.S. swim team was in Omaha when I was recently there for one of my plays. With their parents. I wanted to write a play very quickly called Swim Mom Key Party and perform it before the week was up, but nobody took me seriously.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:21 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wait, so there are Olympic sports you can just, like, sign up for? For fun? With no significant past experience doing that sport?

Bobsledding, is, I think, just a bunch of NFL running backs and one guy who knows how to steer.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 9:27 PM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


My dad used to work with a lady named Molly who was in the Olympics--swimmer or diver, I forget which it was, along with her last name. She's Joanna Kerns' sister, though. I met her at my dad's funeral.

And that's my spectacular Olympic connection for you. Unless we count The Event Formerly Known As Ravelympics, anyway.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:38 PM on July 30, 2012


I helped hand out medals for the Special Olympics World Games once. It was hot and I was 13 and I was trying to instruct a Guatemalan politician on how the winners were arranged (9-7-5-3-1-2-4-6-8 or something - had to go back and forth) with shrugs and nods because I couldn't free up a hand from the medal cushion and I didn't know any Spanish.

I had to wear the worst hat ever, but I saw Hootie and the Blowfish for free.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:43 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


For a month I lived in an apartment in Moscow that was built as part of the 1980 Olympic Village. In 1994.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 9:45 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was living in Denver when the city was awarded the winter olympics and then right after the voters had a referendum to tell the olympics to go take a flying fuck. I would venture to say that the majority of Londoners would be grateful to recently have the power that the Denver voters had way back then.

There is some interesting buzz that the powers that be in Denver today are aghast about what happened back then and fearful that they are forever ineligible to making any future olympic bids. The taxpayers can scoff at these fuckers and tell 'em that ain't a bug it's a feature.
posted by bukvich at 9:45 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Erm, I was there in 1994. The apartment was there too, but it was built in 1980.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 9:46 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


We went to Nagano a few years ago to see the snow monkeys, and the innkeeper gave us all souvenir pins from the 1998 winter olympics.
posted by moonmilk at 9:54 PM on July 30, 2012


Oh boy, MeFi! That's where I'm an Olympian!
posted by Curious Artificer at 10:02 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I am an Olympian.

My teacher announced one day in 1980 that there was going to be a city wide "Olympics" in such competitive events as the Softball Throw and Pullups. The winners would get medals and go on to compete at some larger competition, maybe even *gasp* state. As part of our physical education class, tryouts were mandatory. Fortunately, for the asthmatic nerds, there were a few token non-athletic events such as checkers, "math", and chess. Being 10 at the time, almost none of the chubby egghead losers knew how to play chess and they flocked to represent the school at checkers. I had a stoner aunt who was kicked out of her house and lived with us who one day brought home a boyfriend who, perhaps in an effort to endear himself despite his long hair and van conversion parked outside, would routinely spend 20 minutes playing with me while my aunt got ready, most likely by getting high in her bedroom with her stoner girlfriend who also lived with us. Anyway, Ace (his real name) taught me the rules of chess, and to my surprise, I was quickly able to beat him every match. It is only with 30 years' perspective that I realize it might just be possible he *let* me win. Regardless, when I saw the sign up table for the chess team empty, I realized this could be my moment of glory. A real medal my teacher said. All the painful memories of being sent to the outfield in little league where the ball is never hit, being made goalie where I wouldn't have to run around and get in anyone's way, of being picked last for dodge ball, all faded away. I signed my name, and with zero competition I found myself at the city-wide elementary school Olympics 2 weeks later. I even got a matching green t-shirt like the real athletes from my school like Terrence who was there because he could kick a rubber ball further than anyone in the school. We marched together as team mates into the local high school's football stadium, to cheering parents.

I arrived to find 4 competitors from the entire city ready to do battle. 3 medals -- gold, silver, and bronze -- for 4 participants, my odds looked great. A real medal. I'd never won anything, no trophy, no plaque, nothing more than a participant ribbon, in my life. My first match was tough. Mike Parsky, who was in my cub scout troop, and a cocky son of a bitch. He made some dumb mistakes early on that I capitalized on, but gradually I caught on that he was trying to trick me into making the moves he wanted. By the time this occurred to me, I was already down two bishops and it was too late to recover. The whole match took about 10 minutes to lose. Shit. There goes the gold, as my heart began to sink and a lump formed in my throat. I looked over to my parents, as proud as could be watching the whole embarrasment. The next match was with this guy Terry, a black kid, which was notable for me as I had never seen a black kid in our white bread suburb. He was a large, imposing guy and a fearsome competitor, who almost literally wiped the floor with me. He rolled right over me in like 6 moves and i didn't even know what had happened. He got up from the table before the tears had even had a chance to start bursting from my belly. Deep blubbering tears that only a child who knows he should be ashamed to be seen doing this yet can't control himself can make. Even if you're an egghead loser who finds just one brainy thing you think you might be good at, there's always gonna be another nerd with the same pent-up nerd rage who's just waiting to unload it on you. 3 medals, 4 competitors, and I was going to go home with the participant ribbon.

Terry and I eventually became friends 2 years later when he transferred to my school for the gifted and talented program. Eventually I came to understand that my humiliation that day was nothing compared to the daily frustration of being the only black kid in a lily white suburb, in fact I was pretty much at peace with my humiliation by the time I met him and I sometimes wonder if he ever came to terms with the hassles he had to deal with. My parents recently sold their house and sent me a box of things from my child hood, old stories I'd written, boy scout badges, and there in a file marked "5th grade Mrs. Barrett" was the green participant ribbon. I have my own son now (2 actually, but I don't count the baby); he's literally the smartest, fastest, funniest most beautiful, greatest kid that has ever lived on the planet and I hope to never witness the moment he realizes that maybe that's not exactly true.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:34 PM on July 30, 2012 [63 favorites]


My parents rented (and eventually bought) a house from a couple that had met at the Games. The mom was a bronze medalist in kayaking. Her daughter was my age, her son was closer to my brother's age. He competed in Athens in some rowing sport or other (kayaks again, I think) but didn't medal.

They had long metal sheds behind our house, near the river, where they stored the kayaks. Google Earth tells me those sheds are gone now.

No idea why I never asked to see the medal. Probably should have asked.
posted by caution live frogs at 10:34 PM on July 30, 2012


I have taken riding clinics from two Olympic equestrians and one Olympic course designer. That's as close as I'll ever get to the Olympics because I am basically way too chicken to jump gigantic scary fences that can eat you.
posted by OolooKitty at 10:37 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, to add to my comment, I have not, to this day, ever played chess again.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:40 PM on July 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


When I saw this post on the gray I just knew it would be filled with comments about tenuous connections and jokes about how lazy we all are (but winners in our own special events). You didn't let me down.

My personal Olympic connection...had a boyfriend who worked for a satellite broadcasting company and was sent to the 2002 Salt Lake City winter Olympics. So I flew out there for a few days and had a blast. We were poor and didn't go to any events, but hung around Park City and enjoyed the regular beers they sold there as opposed to the rest of the state. One night we're hanging out at this upstairs bar in SLC Olympic Park. It's practically empty. And I see this guy and say to him, "Hey! You're Jimmy Shea!" He agrees, I get a picture (which I now can't find, drat!) and I lose him to a crowd that magically appeared. I was happy all night.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:08 PM on July 30, 2012


I forgot the word 'tenuous'.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:09 PM on July 30, 2012


I shook hands with Kurt Angle once. I have no recollection of why he was doing a signing at a Tower Records.
posted by hades at 11:33 PM on July 30, 2012


Wait, so there are Olympic sports you can just, like, sign up for? For fun? With no significant past experience doing that sport?

This came up in the Sydney Olympics, with Handball too.
As I recall, the host nation gets auto qualification to all events. Australia didn't have a handball team, but one of the Sydney universities was running an amateur league. They asked the national olympic committee if they could field a team. They then recruited players, including an appeal on the local version of NPR radio for try-outs, where presumably they picked the most talented athletes they could find. Certainly the vibe from the guy on the radio was to expect the team to be made up of pretty elite-non-handballer athletes.
I don't know what happened, but presume a team of enthusiastic amateur basketballers, netballers etc. turned up and were thrashed - but at least they got to add Olympic Athlete to their resume.
posted by bystander at 12:36 AM on July 31, 2012


Mariel Zagunis, 2-time Gold medalist in fencing, carried the American flag in the opening ceremonies. She is from Beaverton, OR, which is somewhat south of me. I have never seen her in person, so I am as Olympian as most MeFites.
posted by Cranberry at 12:40 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Coleen, a fellow camper at Sherwood Forest summer camp, once shook Larry Wilcox’s hand.
posted by blueberry at 12:40 AM on July 31, 2012


A man who performed surgery on me (twice!) when I was a teen has a daughter running for the US. A couple of my friends from my hometown-area went to high school with a girl who's playing basketball for Team GB. And I'm pretty sure a couple of women I used to live with have played soccer with Abby Wambach, or at least met her through Rochester-area women's soccer connections. And my brother's friends programmed the mood ring function of the Eye.

My friends & I call this game "3 degrees of Knile".
posted by knile at 1:13 AM on July 31, 2012


My friend's nephew has did the triple jump at the London Olympic Stadium as part of a "warm up" event to test the facilities. Here he is.
posted by Jehan at 1:53 AM on July 31, 2012


Back in the late 90s, the Martinique Special Olympics team stayed at my college and I sort of wandered over there and translated for them for a couple of days. They were pretty damn awesome to hang out with.
posted by sciencegeek at 2:33 AM on July 31, 2012


There is one here I know for sure...his account is anonymous, so I'm not going to out him, but he's a sprinter that I knew from college who made it to Beijing and then to London. I probably receive more silly links from him than just about anyone, so you know, the whole "Olympians don't spend all day on the internet" thing is only kinda true.

He's not expected to do well in the individual events, but his team might sneak into a medal. I'll notify him of this thread in the event he's not going 24/7 and might pop his head in.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 3:36 AM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


I am a certified gold medalist in Egregious Procrastination

it was made of chocolate
posted by elizardbits at 5:44 PM on July 30 [8 favorites +] [!]


I won one of these too. I'm planning on eating it later.
posted by chavenet at 4:14 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


This year my brother is at the Olympics for the third time, playing table tennis for Australia. He's never won an Olympic medal (although he got a silver at the Commonwealth Games once) but this year he surprised everyone by beating the world-ranked #80 then #39 before losing to #14 in a very close match in the round of 32 (he's ranked 130). He still has the team and doubles events to go, so it's not over yet.

Sadly I don't get to watch him play, because table tennis lacks that special Channel 9 appeal and I don't have stupid Foxtel. Watching the numbers count up on the London 2012 results page was exciting, though.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 4:38 AM on July 31, 2012 [24 favorites]


My housemate is in London watching his sister compete. Like A Thousand Baited Hooks, I won't see her compete because she is sheila but not the kind that plays beach volleyball and probably won't get tv coverage. This is kind of a relief as I don't have to lie about missing her when I would have just forgotten to watch her.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 4:57 AM on July 31, 2012


Alex Morgan, of the U.S. women's soccer team is my distant cousin, although I've never met her. My kids are pretty sure that we are now celebrities as a result.
posted by Dojie at 5:17 AM on July 31, 2012


The mother of one of my best friends was on the 1956 Hungarian swim team. She defected. Very dramatic.
posted by gingerest at 5:56 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I lived in Baltimore I swam laps in Towson, and swam in a lane 2 over from Michael Phelps once. This was before his first Olympics. So I'm practically a multiple gold medalist.
posted by gaspode at 6:02 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


There is one here I know for sure...his account is anonymous, so I'm not going to out him, but he's a sprinter that I knew from college who made it to Beijing and then to London.

That is very cool. It would be great to know who he is, even without his account information, just so we could know who to cheer on.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:05 AM on July 31, 2012


I'd like to take this opportunity to complain about the way the table tennis events are shot. We get extreme close-ups of the athletes as they're preparing to serve, and then it changes to a shot from one end of the table, which makes foreshortens everything to a ridiculous degree. Can we get some views from the side, NBC? You manage to show almost the entire cross-country course of three-day eventing, but can't get a side shot of table tennis?
posted by rtha at 6:25 AM on July 31, 2012


While I was in high school, Dan Jansen (who had went to my high school) finally won a medal. Kids at my high school were interviewed for reaction, and my friend (and current metafilter member) said something like "it doesn't really effect me," which is true.

Later my friend was told that one of Jansen's cousins, who was in one of our classes, was mad at him for the quote. So it goes.

There was also a former olympian in my journalism classes in college. He was a great guy.
posted by drezdn at 6:28 AM on July 31, 2012


I'd like to take this opportunity to complain about the way the table tennis events are shot. We get extreme close-ups of the athletes as they're preparing to serve, and then it changes to a shot from one end of the table, which makes foreshortens everything to a ridiculous degree

Luxury! Apparently Foxtel (the partly Murdoch-owned pay TV service that I don't have) showed last night's table tennis, but the only camera they used was one with a view of the entire hall where four games were being played at once. Not an ideal way to watch table tennis. Fortunately my brother's match was being shown on the big screen on the other side of the hall so anyone with a large enough TV could peer at the little screen-within-a-screen and try to work out where the ball was.

Thanks, Australian Olympic TV rights-holders!
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:48 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


That is very cool. It would be great to know who he is, even without his account information, just so we could know who to cheer on.

I won't give it totally away, but let's just say you can't go wrong cheering for the Canadians. Ever, really.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 6:50 AM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I lived across the street from Montreal's Olympic Stadium.

As a resident of Salt Lake City, I occasionally drive past the Olympic stadium - now used for the University of Utah football team's home games - with its torch standing beside the sign reading "Light the Fire Within".

I invariably recite this as "Insert the Enema Within".

I have a sophisticated sense of humor.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:04 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My 6 month old son is in contention for the gold in 100 Litre Freestyle Dribble, does that count?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first job out of university, about 10 years ago, I worked with a guy who qualified for the 1980 Moscow Olympics for rowing. But then the Canadian team boycotted the games after Russia invaded Afghanistan, and he didn't get to go.

And when I was in high school, I had a chance to meet/have a coaching session with Mark Heese in volleyball (he and John Child won the bronze in beach volleyball in the 96 games).

Those are my only two brushes with Olympic fame, that I'm aware of.
posted by antifuse at 7:16 AM on July 31, 2012


Oh! And my brother in law also helped build the Olympic stadium in Sydney. He's a form carpenter, flew over from Ireland to do the work (he had also done some work on oil pipelines in the Outback prior to that, as well)
posted by antifuse at 7:18 AM on July 31, 2012


I went to Lake Placid on a (summer) family vacation one time but all I really remember is vomiting tropical fruit Mentos into a trashbin outside the Ski Jump. I'm pretty sure I didn't medal.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:22 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have three Olympics connections:

1) A friend of a friend in college invited my friend and me to his house in L.A. for a week during the summer of 1984. I didn't know who this guy was at all, and my friend had only just met him through another friend, but we were so excited to get out of Champaign that summer that we jumped at the chance at a free week in L.A.! During the week, we spent more time going to clubs than watching the Olympics, but the last day we were there, I rented a car, drove down from his house and bought a ticket to a day of track and field from a scalper. Mary Decker and Zola Budd had their close encounter right in front of me.

2) The friend of a friend I stayed with turned out to be Charles Lakes, who went on to the US men's gymnastics team in Seoul in 1988, and I just found out upon googling, was the first black American gymnast to compete in the Olympics! I had no idea he was such an athlete at the time - I just thought he was this really fit dude that my friend had met.

3) Many years later I became a fan of professional softball, and got to hang out in a bar once with Jennie Finch and Vicky Galindo (who did not drink - they were there to meet fans.) Jennie Finch is as tall and slender and beautiful in person as you might expect from seeing these.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 7:27 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to school with some of the Kimballs
posted by clavdivs at 7:28 AM on July 31, 2012


I was a producer during NBC's coverage of the Beijing Olympics and made a lot of the cheesy 'flavor of the city" pieces - you know, the "US fencing team faces off... in karaoke!" "BMX bikers race rickshaws!" "US Basketball players climb the Great Wall!" "China discovers CHEERLEADING!" That kind of thing.

YOU MONSTER.
posted by antifuse at 7:33 AM on July 31, 2012 [12 favorites]


Hmm. Well, my coach (and close friend) when I was running competitively went to the Moscow Olympics to run the 5,000 meters. He got food poisoning in the Olympic village and never made it out of the first round.

For a number of years the people I spent most of my time around were former, current, or eventual track and field Olympians for a variety of countries: New Zealand, Canada, Ireland, Great Britain, and the U.S. There's a lot of down time in between running twice a day and recovery, so you'd be surprised how many Olympic caliber athletes spend their time. Surfing metafilter wouldn't surprise me in the least. (In the group I socialized with a lot of the guys were indie music fans and spent many nights out seeing bands in small clubs, others took up pool and haunted the local dive bars. Some played video games, and so on. Picture what most people who have demanding part time jobs do for relaxation and fun, (other than drinking a lot, although there were a few ruined careers due to that, too) and that's what the athletes I knew did.

for myself, the closest I got was qualifying for the Olympic trials in the marathon, and I cracked my shin before that race and was unable to participate. Still have the T-shirt though!
posted by stagewhisper at 7:33 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


Why just last winter, I took a run down the Lake Placid bobsled run. It was great! They do tours and let us dream! I also did the biathalon on their course. Well, I skipped the skiing part and we just did the shooting, but that was cool too.

My first Olympic experience was actually attending the 76 games in Montreal. I saw the famous Butch Lee Puerto Rico v USA basketball game. I sat next to Ernie Grunfeld's mother. She was a nice Jewish lady from NY screaming for her son. "That's Ernie, That's Ernie" over and over and over again. She did apologize for screaming in my ear and buy me a soda.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:38 AM on July 31, 2012


i shared a taxi with the designer who worked on the Beijing Olympic medals from the Shanghai Expo back to our location. He was our special guest that day. (The word our is relative since I was the random member of the Finnish team and he was the guest at Finnish Pavilion and later at the Sino Finnish Cultural center.)
posted by infini at 7:40 AM on July 31, 2012


For a while when I was in my teens, I took figure skating lessons from an Olympic skater and used to see another one visit the rink sometimes.

As an adult, I roller skated in the "Junior Olympic Nationals" (this is no big deal -- the JOs were not age-based, but an event for people who didn't yet qualify for regular Nationals).

And I got to attend the men's short program at the Vancouver Olympics, which was pretty cool! Wish I could have afforded to see more events.
posted by litlnemo at 7:40 AM on July 31, 2012


Oh geez, I forgot about the Olympians I knew from the sport I participated in before running. If the winter Olympics count, I used to train on the same freestyle sessions with Paul Wylie and Nancy Kerrigan, and at one time or another met a lot of the top figure skaters from that same era. On a tragic note, Christopher Bowman ended up teaching alongside my mom before his addiction finally won. There's another former Olympian teaching with her now who has been battling similar demons but so far is winning.
Distance running may be physically punishing, but figure skating is an psychologically brutal sport.
posted by stagewhisper at 7:42 AM on July 31, 2012


My sibling’s spouse’s sibling’s spouse is a nine times gold medalist.

On the one hand it’s kind of reduced the value of an Olympic gold medal to me, now that I know they’re prepared to hand out NINE of the things to a person who I see at every family barbecue telling bad jokes and looking completely unremarkable.

On the other hand it’s raised my estimation of Sibling’s-Spouse’s-Sibling’s-Spouse exponentially, because I didn't find out about the medals until years after we were introduced.

Seriously, how is that even possible? If it were me, I guarantee that every single family party would have just devolved into me yelling at everybody “What’s that? I couldn’t hear you over the clanking of my NINE GOLD MEDALS.”
posted by the latin mouse at 7:42 AM on July 31, 2012 [56 favorites]


I dated a current member of the American women's soccer team in college. I was a decently in-shape guy at the time, and she could still beat me in just about any competition involving the moving of one's body parts you can think of.
posted by downing street memo at 7:52 AM on July 31, 2012


I went to high school with Scott Touzinsky. Our high school dominated men's volleyball. I think we went one year where our team won state while never losing a set.
posted by Groundhog Week at 7:54 AM on July 31, 2012


I have a little medal somewhere commemorating the fact that I skied down a slalom course at Courchevel that had been used in the Winter Olympics that year ('92, I think). Earlier that morning I'd taken an unexpectedly strong tab of acid so the experience was really quite exhilarating.
posted by jack_mo at 8:01 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was at the '96 Olympics in Atlanta. I was dressed as a clown, telling people about Jesus. I don't do either of those things, anymore.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 8:02 AM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


Is it wrong of me to be trying to use process of elimination to determine who the latin mouse's sibling-in-law-in-law is? There are only 3 living 9 times medal winners (plus Phelps with 14!)
posted by He Is Only The Imposter at 8:04 AM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


One of the current US Paralympic rowers is affiliated with my crew team. Another one of our rowers came within a hair of making the team as well.
posted by schmod at 8:07 AM on July 31, 2012


I played the National Anthem, the Olympic Anthem and several other songs (herald trumpet group) at the start of the Special Olympics in MN at the capitol in St. Paul in about 1992. It was great nerdy fun and a huge honor because we had to go pre-record the music and lip-sync it at the event due to the space and the noise. We got to record it at Prince's Paisley Park Studio. I now live only a few miles from PP Studio and I think of the Special Olympics every time I drive by.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 8:11 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I went to state in Forensics.
posted by drezdn at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


she could still beat me in just about any competition involving the moving of one's body parts you can think of.

Sword fight?
posted by MuffinMan at 8:16 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was friends with a guy who fenced. He trained with a couple of the members of the 2004 Olympic squad. I once went to his (gym? fencing school? dojo?) and we played around with sharp objects for an afternoon. I also had to borrow a t-shirt as I showed up right after work. I never gave the t-shirt back. I guess that pretty much makes me an Olympic fencer.
posted by Glibpaxman at 8:17 AM on July 31, 2012


I had dinner with an Olympic ice skater once.
posted by JanetLand at 8:23 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My previous upstairs neighbour ran in the 2008 Olympics.

Frankly, I was kind of amazed that she was one of our country's top runners, considering I'd previously only known her as the source of all the cigarette smoke wafting up from the parking lot.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:27 AM on July 31, 2012


Back when I was still flexible, I was a competitive synchronized swimmer. It was pretty much expected that we'd always lose to Tracie Ruiz and Candie Costie, two Seattle swimmers who went on to win the first gold medals in synchro at the 1984 Games. Tracie and Candie were (and presumably still are) awesome, friendly people who were also absolutely fierce competitors.
posted by catlet at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2012


Also: When I fucked up my knee trying to jog, my orthopedist turned out to be Eric Heiden - which was pretty amazing.
posted by Egg Shen at 8:50 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I was in the 1986 Calgary Opening Ceremonies in the choir.

I have a medal that says I was in them an everything! And the CBC decided to show my mug for a couple seconds on the worldwide broadcast.

It was pretty cool.
posted by right_then at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mark Spitz's mom was my algebra teacher in high school. That's the closest I've come to an Olympian.
posted by apricot at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I was very young I was married to an Olympic runner. She had competed in the then-recent Seoul games.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:08 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I was very young I was married to an Olympic runner. She had competed in the then-recent Seoul games

Wow! Neat.
posted by sweetkid at 9:12 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to live next door to Matt Biondi's first cousins, also named Biondi.
posted by grouse at 9:14 AM on July 31, 2012


Thread summary: no
posted by WhitenoisE at 9:15 AM on July 31, 2012 [8 favorites]


I was on the State Champion UIL Computer Science team my senior year. But do you see our title on the big water tower in town? Nooooooooo. It's all Baseball Champion this, Baseball Champion that.
posted by kmz at 9:18 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Thread summary: no"

Thread summary: allegedly, yes.

Thanks for the not-ever-so-helpful summary, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:31 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was in a bar fight started by Chris Chelios and Brett Hull at the '98 Winter Games.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:32 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I swam on the same swim team as Carrie Steinseifer who won the womens 100 meter freestyle in 1984.
posted by vespabelle at 9:51 AM on July 31, 2012


you are welcome
posted by WhitenoisE at 10:05 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, I totally forgot! I went to grad school with a guy who went to Harvard. Guy who went to Harvard knew Mark Zuckerberg, regretted not having gotten into Facebook on the ground floor, which he totally could have. And Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook, may or may not have stolen the idea from Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who rowed in the Beijing Olympics.
posted by madcaptenor at 10:08 AM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


And now you know the rest of the story.... Good DAY.
posted by drezdn at 10:23 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have a nasty scar on my leg from a mountain bike ride with a bronze medalist ('84).
posted by Confess, Fletch at 10:24 AM on July 31, 2012


I beat the hell out of our Apple ][e keyboard playing Microsoft Decathlon. I am sure I caused my father a lot of embarassment at work, though I like to think I helped him think differently, as he had to write scientific papers with no "L".

Relatedly, I had a rather sweaty moment when my mom walked up behind me while I was running the 1000 meters in the Activision Decathlon for the Atari 2600.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:35 AM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


I was in the same body of water as Triathlete Laura Bennett earlier this summer. To say we swam together would give me way too much credit.
posted by rachums at 10:44 AM on July 31, 2012


A couple of my friends are currently working as Games Makers, as the smiling people in red-and-navy shirts and beige trousers at all the events are called (one of them's helping to look after Team USA, actually - they're in good hands!) The only other connection I have is that a girl I lived with in my final year of university is now a doctor, and was in the part of the Opening Ceremony that celebrated the NHS. Didn't even realise until I saw her being tagged in photos of the ceremony on Facebook.
posted by ZsigE at 10:46 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to high school with Carly Piper, who won a gold in women's 4x200 swimming relay in 2004. She was a year ahead of me. Her family lives a couple blocks from mine and they renamed her street "Carly Piper Gold Medal Court".
posted by Tesseractive at 10:48 AM on July 31, 2012


I won the bronze in motorboating - open class in the 1908 Olympic Games in London.
posted by The World Famous at 10:50 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My mother was a torch bearer. I'm fairly cynical about the whole event but it is odd to see someone you know part of such a huge thing. She's also a volunteer (Games Maker) and I know a few other people who are - I think it's costing them a lot to get to the venues for their shifts.
posted by paduasoy at 10:53 AM on July 31, 2012


Relatedly, I had a rather sweaty moment when my mom walked up behind me while I was running the 1000 meters in the Activision Decathlon for the Atari 2600.

I'll admit, I hadn't heard that term for it before.
posted by Diablevert at 10:56 AM on July 31, 2012 [11 favorites]


I won the bronze in motorboating - open class in the 1908 Olympic Games in London.

Sadly for your story, only the gold was awarded for motorboating that year. It was a bit of a shambles all round - in each of the three events, only two boats started, and only one in each race finished. It's not hugely surprising that water motorsports has never made it back into the Olympics since then.
posted by ZsigE at 10:59 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sadly for your story, only the gold was awarded for motorboating that year.

That's what they want you to believe, man. The bronze was awarded in a private ceremony, behind closed doors.
posted by The World Famous at 11:10 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


While I was in high school, Dan Jansen (who had went to my high school) finally won a medal. Kids at my high school were interviewed for reaction, and my friend (and current metafilter member) said something like "it doesn't really effect me," which is true.

Later my friend was told that one of Jansen's cousins, who was in one of our classes, was mad at him for the quote. So it goes.


Ok, so that was me. I find myself still strangely peeved at their not including my full quote, which would have made it sound much less dismissive of Jansen. The thing is, Jansen did totally dominate and that was an awesome accomplishment.

BUT

the West Allis Central High School that HE went to was located on 76th street; the WACHS that we went to, years later, had been relocated to a completely separate set of facilities on 84th street. There were very few faculty that taught at the time we were there that also taught at the time he was going to high school. And his talent was mostly unconnected to the high school, which had no facilities then or at the time we were attending that were related in any way to speed skating. So ultimately his successes did not reflect in any way on me or anyone else attending WACHS with me.

I tried explaining that to the interviewer, but they just chopped it down to a manageable soundbite. That's when I vowed never to trust a journalist again.

There was also a former olympian in my journalism classes in college. He was a great guy.

OR WAS HE
posted by Jpfed at 11:12 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sadly for your story, only the gold was awarded for motorboating that year.

That's what they want you to believe, man. The bronze was awarded in a private ceremony, behind closed doors.


Omigod, The World Famous has revealed his secret identity and Dan Quayle is now Mefi's own Dan Quayle!
posted by biffa at 11:15 AM on July 31, 2012


Watersports and motorboating, hmmm?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My father is an Olympian. Gold, silver, and bronze medalist in three separate Olympic games. My mother is a world champion in the same sport. Well past retirement age, my father continues to coach, and my mother competes in Master's games.

To make my life more interesting, I was given the exact same name as my father, and was born one day after the closing ceremony of the games in which he won his gold medal.

Needless to say all this contributed a great deal to the expectations of my life. To their immense credit, my parents did not contribute in the slightest to this pressure: so long as I was happy, they were content to let me be.

Probably the biggest thing I took from the experience of my parents is the extreme commitment it takes to become an elite athlete. My father has risen before 6am every day for most of his life, either to train or to coach. As I child, I was taken from one event to the next, sleeping on whatever was available: the bottom drawer of an cabinet when my parents didn't have room for a crib, countless car seats and mattresses in the backs of vans. I spent a lot of time growing up on the sides of lakes.

My father's devotion to the sport is complete, honest, and whole-hearted - the sport continues to be amateur-based, and no competitor makes a living wage from it. My family home is filled with medals, banners, memorabilia and photographs from competitions around the world.

That devotion is also one of the reasons I left to come to Canada: the accomplishments of my father and the constant identification with him (enhanced by being from small island nation) made any perspective of my own very difficult to achieve.

I admire, respect, and love my parents, but I could not be in the same country with them.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 11:23 AM on July 31, 2012 [61 favorites]


koeselitz: " Oh, come on. I mean, I understand where you're coming from, but at least some Olympic athletes have to be as cool as us."

Yeah, but so few of us get lucrative endorsements.

This message brought to you by Pepsi Blue. The choice of a Blue Generation.
posted by zarq at 11:25 AM on July 31, 2012


I signed an online petition to bring Animalympics to DVD a few years ago.
posted by mintcake! at 11:27 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


the West Allis Central High School that HE went to was located on 76th street


Oh hey, my dad went there, and *checks Wikipedia* probably attended at the same time as Jansen*!


I'm Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, and I'm an Olympian.


*And, I guess, the same time as drezdn and Jpfed? I need to drag him to a Milwaukee meet-up some time.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 11:28 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I lived in Seoul in 1988. We went to plenty of events, though I unfortunately had to watch Greg Louganis crack his skull open on television like most other people. After the games had rolled out of town, the saddle-shaped Olympic Stadium was opened up to the public. I went with some friends and we lined up to race around the track.

I was nine years old at the time, and about as athletic as a salami sandwich. I'd never run 40 meters, let alone the 400 that comprised one lap of the stadium's track, but I was determined to beat my friends. We drew straws for lane assignments; I ended up on the outside in lane 3, but that was no matter. I'd blow past them, take up residence in the first lane and handily win the day.

We lined up, fingers arched on the starting line. Some sort of stadium official was there with a starter pistol; as he pulled the trigger, I was off. I ran with all my might, concentrating on swinging my arms in rhythm with my legs. I took a huge lead; my friends were probably twenty meters behind me. I was so high with elation I started seeing spots.

But no, the spots were from something else. Shooting pains took over my ribcage as I hit my lactate threshold. About 150 meters into our race, I had to stop. My friends overtook me, jogging steadily past. They finished in under three minutes; I pulled myself across after about twenty.

And thus I learned the difference between sprinting and long-distance running. BUT, I still took bronze in an Olympic stadium!
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 11:28 AM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I used to hang with this Czech couple; the wife was a silver medalist At Innsbruck in some skiing event, can't remember which. Her husband was this crazy oil mogul and they summered in a penthouse in Calgary. He liked to drink coca cola in whiskey glasses and he'd swirl the drink around loudly declaring that it was "the drink of god" while his wife tsk tsk'd away in the kitchen baking cinnamon rolls.

It was a nice view.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:33 AM on July 31, 2012 [6 favorites]


When I was growing up in Tokyo I used to buy my science fiction at the Washington Heights BX, which was torn down for the 1964 Olympics (which I attended, though I have only foggy memories of the opening ceremony and some track and field) and is now Yoyogi Park.
posted by languagehat at 11:37 AM on July 31, 2012


I leaned how to canoe from an olympic gold and bronze medal winning boatsman.*

*OK, so he was the coxswain in two olympics in the rowed pair with cox, but he was still an olympic medal winning boatsman damnnit!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:40 AM on July 31, 2012


Oh, yeah and my 5th grade teacher's husband was the college running coach for some of the 1984 medalists who then came and showed us their medals in class!
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:41 AM on July 31, 2012


I raced alongside one of the women competing on the U.S. women's bike racing team, Evelyn Stevens. I wouldn't say she's a friend, but in a world as small as NYC women's bike racing, you are all compatriots.

She is possibly the greatest success story in women's cycling in decades. And the entire racing community in NYC is extremely proud of her.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:51 AM on July 31, 2012 [4 favorites]


I used to work for a government agency which among other things provided support for the country's national sporting organisations and for elite athletes. Almost all of our staff were provincial level athletes or higher. We had one Olympic gold medallist in hockey, one guy who had won the softball world champs once as a player and twice as a coach (while working for us full time), one rugby sevens world champion and a bunch of other national level athletes.
posted by Infinite Jest at 11:53 AM on July 31, 2012


Damn, did y'all just see that swim race?
posted by Burhanistan at 12:00 PM on July 31, 2012


Oklahoma is lousy with Olympic gymnasts. I frequently drive the Shannon Miller Parkway; does that count?
posted by Dr. Zira at 12:02 PM on July 31, 2012


I'm Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug, and I'm an Olympian.

This just in- WADA reports that one of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug's samples has provided a positive result for a banned substance. We will have further details and reactions as they become available.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:04 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was in the 1986 Calgary Opening Ceremonies in the choir.

That'd be 1988. (They used to not be staggered.)
posted by Sys Rq at 12:10 PM on July 31, 2012


As far as I'm concerned the real story of this thread is learning that Woolloomooloo is a place. This is why it's so hard to take you seriously, Australia.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:22 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


I used to go ice skating where the US Olympic speed skating team practiced. So yes, I failed in attempts to woo the high school ladies on the same ice where eagles soared.
posted by drezdn at 12:35 PM on July 31, 2012


I sat behind (and to the left of) a future cast member of an MTV wrestling reality tv show of the early noughties.
posted by drezdn at 12:37 PM on July 31, 2012


We used to live two houses down from Brian Boitano's aunt and uncle.
posted by Lynsey at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My cousin qualified for the Olympics in some running thing but chose not to participate because she's too busy working on her doctorate in Geology.

Also, I've ice skated on that rink at the top of a mountain near Lake Tahoe that was built for one of the Olympics.
posted by bendy at 1:02 PM on July 31, 2012


When I was very young I was married to an Olympic runner. She had competed in the then-recent Seoul games

Wow! Neat.


Thanks. It also suggested some things about the advantages of having longer legs (I am 6'2", she was and presumably still is 5'4") -- I only once ever challenged her to a footrace. It was close, but I can honestly say that I outran an Olympian sprinter.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:24 PM on July 31, 2012


As far as I'm concerned the real story of this thread is learning that Woolloomooloo is a place. This is why it's so hard to take you seriously, Australia.

Indigenous place names sure sound funny. Let's find some more to mock.

Assawoman
Coontoocook
Humptulips
Quonochontaug
Rancho Cucamonga
Ronkonkoma
Waxahachie
Wewahitchka
posted by zamboni at 1:26 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ronkonkoma

Would be today's second opportunity to link to Mike Doughty.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:42 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw that Assawoman was highlighted as me having already visited that link and I thought to myself, "What *have* I been doing lately?" Figuring if I'd been there once, might as well see what I saw (again). It links back to this thread. Cheap thrills and near misses.
posted by iamkimiam at 1:49 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll see your Ronkonkoma and raise you a Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg.

Back on topic, my college fencing instructor was an Olympian.
posted by usonian at 1:50 PM on July 31, 2012


One of the members of my synchronized swimming team in college went on to compete in Seoul. She was badass.
posted by Superplin at 1:53 PM on July 31, 2012


I just found out that my landlord was one of Peggy Fleming's early skating coaches (he was a national ice skating champion in the early 1960s).
posted by scody at 2:01 PM on July 31, 2012


My father in law played table tennis on the Korean national team, and played in two Olympics ... never medaled. He did however win a gold in the Pan-Asia games.
posted by luriete at 2:01 PM on July 31, 2012 [3 favorites]


I won silver in jumping over pixellated debris on my dirtbike.
posted by moammargaret at 2:03 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


A former colleague of mine is in the Olympics this year. Imagine the nicest guy you could ever meet combined with one of the smartest guys you could ever meet* combined with an Olympic-caliber athlete.


*Seriously; a faculty member I knew called him the best student he'd had in 25 years.
posted by Betelgeuse at 2:11 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hey I grew up right near Ronkonkoma!

And I was taught sailing by US Olympian Debbie Capozzi. She is awesome.
posted by Katine at 2:12 PM on July 31, 2012


I beat QWOP twice. I can beat QWOP any day, any time. (GIRP, though...)
I'll just leave this here (from the peak of my training, when I was at my best).
posted by Partial Law at 2:14 PM on July 31, 2012


With all due respects, I can't imagine an Olympian athlete of any kind, sitting on his/her ass all day & surfing Metafilter

Olympic shooting is essentially an advanced form of pointing and clicking
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:15 PM on July 31, 2012 [7 favorites]


One of the members of my synchronized swimming team in college ...

Serious question: how do you get into synchronised swimming? You just swimming around one day and someone points at you and says "psssst! Hey kid! You look like the type who can hold their breath for five minutes and float around upside down in perfect unison with about nine other people. You ever thought of synchronised swimming?"
posted by Diablevert at 2:16 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


All you QWOP fans have seen the cosplay video, yes?
posted by Lexica at 2:19 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Probably?
posted by zamboni at 2:36 PM on July 31, 2012


We just returned from London last night, and attended the Olympics on Sunday. We had tickets for the Men's Football (Soccer for Americans) double-header. I am exhausted and still reeling from the loss of my iPad (left on the plane after going 48 hours straight on ~4 hours of sleep), so please bear with me if I am a bit incoherent.

Wembley's new stadium is huge and impressive (and, I understand, outfitted with all new locks!). For some unfathomable reason they had closed off the nearest tube stations, the bright shiny new ones created just for the games, so we ended up walking from the older Wembley Central, which helpful security people told us was, "About a 15-20 minute walk."

We made it in about 5 but were still late to the first game--totally our own fault, as we'd been pub-crawling with friends from Southampton and lost track of time. One planned to attend the games with us as we had an extra ticket, but had to cry off as his car was in imminent danger of clamping and towage (train cancelled, drove to the wrong place to meet us--but that's a long sorry mess of a story best left untold). After getting the okay from local security, we sold our extra ticket back (at no profit; can't stand scalpers) to a fan at the game hoping for a chance to see Team GB play, and then found our seats.

Uruguay was in the process of losing handily to Senegal when we came in, with Konate impressively running rings around their defense, practically dancing down the field. He scored two goals and then Senegal got flagged with a red card (bit harsh, in the view of the crowd), which looked to make things more competitive for poor Uruguay.

But even against a team sporting a man down, Uruguay, surprisingly, couldn't pull off a win. We had a prime view from where we were seated (in the twelfth row! Yay!*) as the team went down, and their defeat was heralded by continued boos from the crowd every time Luis Suarez so much as laid a toe on the ball. We had to check in with some of the native Britons seated in front of us to find out exactly why that was, and they reminded us that Suarez was behind that ugly "racial incident" earlier in the yea. We booed cheerfully right along with them in support. In fact, we were a bit charmed with the way the British handled the whole situation: though they roundly agreed he was a "good ball player" and it was a shame, they were not going to let that kind of racist behavior go unchallenged just because Suarez knew his way around a football field.

Despite the (much mentioned and frequently lamented) unsold seats at each venue, the energy at Wembley was simply glorious. We were surrounded by Canadians, Britons and Americans, every one of us thrilled to be there. Even my son's Manchester United jersey was forgiven by the East Enders among the audience; today we were all "Team GB". At half-time in the first game, as field workers tossed up oversized soccer balls for the crowd to bat back and forth, the American seated next to us bemusedly remarked that he had "never been so worked up over a big ball" before.

And Team GB hadn't even taken to the field yet.

Even the long lines at the concession stands didn't dim our enthusiasm, or the repeated apologetic announcements about "technological difficulties" forcing attendees to shell out pounds rather than the more convenient credit cards we'd been assured would be accepted at the venue. We muttered to ourselves a bit about that issue--surely they were prepared for the huge crowds? "People buying beer at a football game?! That's unheard of!"

The crowd rose as Team GB took to the field for the second game against the UAE ("Please remain upstanding for the national anthem"), and we were moved by the throngs draped in Union Jack flags singing right along.

Of course, Team GB didn't disappoint, either. My son noted early on that Bellamy was "wide open" and that he "couldn't believe" how undefended he and Giggs were, an observation that turned prophetic once Bellamy fed the ball to Giggs in a perfect cross, resulting in the first score in the game from the "Old Man". We all leapt from our seats and the stadium rumbled with the cheers of the crowd. You'd have thought the game was won already.

The UAE managed to tie it up, though, despite several shots on goal by GB and a truly brilliant save by the GB keeper, and for a short time in the second half the men in red and blue looked flat, deflated (I feel like that is, perhaps, the one thing the "arrogant Americans" have going for us--we really do psych ourselves up to win. GB will tell you they have a more realistic sense of optimism about their chances, but the crushing weight of pressure on GB as the host nation really comes out whenever they suffer a disappointment. Mark Cavendish's jerkish reaction to reporters after losing the Team Road Race is just one glaring example).

I was debating with my spouse over how a substitution and an infusion of fresh blood to liven the players back up was warranted, so I felt justified when the coach sent Sinclair in. Still, we were all a bit non-plussed to see him take the place of Giggs, the last man we wanted to leave the field. But Bellamy and Sinclair proved a winning combination, too, and Team GB scored almost immediately after the substitution. Another goal rapidly followed and the win was virtually sewed up. In fact, a lot of fans, including our American neighbor, took off early to avoid the crowds. We stayed until the very last moment, though, and then spent about a half hour in the crush just getting to the closest tube station.

The transportation guys on their horses were just fantastic about handling the crowds, too. We had to be really careful where we stepped, on account of the horses (I don't envy the people responsible for cleaning up that mess), but they kept the crowds calm and made sure no one ran over anyone else or fell on the stairs, letting us move on in stages.

I don't think I'm doing it justice here in my account, and it will probably sound corny, but it really was amazing just being there, part of the crowd cheering on Team GB, even for an American like me.

Sure, our own men's soccer team never even made it into the Olympics, but we were fully caught up in the excitement of the moment, and how this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all of us, and feel like we're going to remember the London Olympics for the rest of our lives.

Sorry this is so long. I have some video and photos from the games, too, if anyone's interested.

*I had a fifteen minute window, back in December, after joining the waiting list from the 2008 Olympics, to get those seats, and had to go in blind, not knowing at the time what teams were even going to be playing. I am damn well patting myself on the back for getting those seats right now.
posted by misha at 3:07 PM on July 31, 2012 [22 favorites]


I went to the same schools (6-8 and then high school) as Abby Wambach. Her older brother was in my grade.

That's all I got.
posted by Lucinda at 3:22 PM on July 31, 2012


I'd like to think that, if I knew how to swim, I'd be holding a few World Records in addition to a multitude of gold medals.
posted by mazola at 3:42 PM on July 31, 2012


Two quasi-Olympic stories:

In high school, one of my classmates, Kirsten, had a 4.0; her older sister was named a Rhodes Scholar. Kirsten got onto varsity tennis; her sister won a gold medal in relay swimming. I always felt bad for Kirsten because while she was a bit of a goody-goody brown noser, her parents CONSTANTLY compared her to her sister and found her wanting. I'm surprised she didn't smoke meth and rob 7-11s.

Right after high school, I worked at a Mexican restaurant, and one of the delivery drivers was named Lance. He was an awesome guy — he got me into Kraftwerk and Japan and prog rock — and he was on the Canadian swim team in '76 as a reserve and loved it. He said being a reserve was the best, since you got to party like a rock star without really worrying too much about making it into the pool and letting your country down.
posted by klangklangston at 3:50 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


In the 1960s I learned to swim at the Y in NJ a guy who had been on the 1960 Chilean Olympic swim team.
posted by beagle at 4:01 PM on July 31, 2012


I used to work with a man who is both the husband of an Olympic gold-medallist and the brother of another Olympian gold-medallist. Plus, I was in the same elevator as Brian Orser and wished him good luck in the 1987 Skate Canada International competition.
posted by angiep at 4:03 PM on July 31, 2012


My husband nearly ran over Joan Benoit-Samuelson on a back road in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. In his defense, it was a foggy night. I like to think that the memory of being nearly pancaked lent her a certain amount of speed in her future endevors.
posted by pentagoet at 4:21 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


*sigh* endeavors.
posted by pentagoet at 4:21 PM on July 31, 2012


I watched the video Tonya Harding's Wedding Night many years back.
posted by gman at 4:22 PM on July 31, 2012 [9 favorites]


I watched the video Tonya Harding's Wedding Night many years back.

My grandparents lived in Camas in the early/mid 90's, and they said she always came to ladies night at the bar right down the hill from their house on Tuesdays.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:37 PM on July 31, 2012


I went to college with three women's soccer players who are at the London games (two Canada, one US). I knew casually (friend-of-friends) another current member of the US Soccer Women's National team, but though she was in Beijing, I don't see her name on the London roster.
posted by yuwtze at 4:42 PM on July 31, 2012


I went to a book signing by Johnny Weir when I was 33wks pregnant and he was the only person in the world who got away with waving to my bump and talking to it as if it was an actual separate person with my developing homicidal urges.
posted by sonika at 4:48 PM on July 31, 2012 [5 favorites]


*WITHOUT. Ugh. I couldn't be homicidal at Johnny Weir. He's too fabulous.
posted by sonika at 4:51 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


My best friend works for the London Olympic organizing committee. That I am not camped on her flat's floor right now is a testament to my hatred of crowds and overall cheapness. She got to go to the opening ceremonies so I had some fun spoiler emails. Previously, she also worked the Vancouver Olympics to which I was scheduled to go until I jacked up my knee three days before leaving - crowds and crutches = too much, so I had to pass. She has fun stories and the work is really hard and stressful but I think what an awesome thing to have on a resume. She isn't an athlete but, you know, goes to the gym and stuff (way more than I do!).
posted by marylynn at 5:10 PM on July 31, 2012


Misha! What a great accounting! We watched that game on TV as it happened and we were cheering right along with you all when Sinclair made that goal mere seconds after the substitution.

I know exactly what you mean about how awesome (and truly, 'awesome' is the right word here) it is just being in an Olympic crowd, even if your home team isn't playing. It's really hard to put into words just how amazing it is.
posted by cooker girl at 5:21 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


Serious question: how do you get into synchronised swimming?

My local Y had a team when I was growing up in the 80's/90's. This was in a pretty dull rural part of the US, and there was nothing special about us or our Y or our town or anything. Aside from it being the deep south where a lot of people have pools, kids lean to swim as soon as they start walking, and the like -- so no more special than your average Colorado town where people do snowboarding, I guess.

I wanted to do it (I was already doing regular swim team), but I guess my activities dance card was full and my mom wouldn't let me. I think I was mostly interested in the part where you put jello in your hair, though I probably would have been a particularly good candidate for it. Thanks, Mom.

Anyway, one of the girls from my swim clique did both swim team and synchronized, and she is now a professional synchro coach. No idea whether she was in any way ever Olympicly inclined or how steep the curve for that sort of thing is. But clearly this is a thing you can do professionally.
posted by Sara C. at 5:56 PM on July 31, 2012


Serious question: how do you get into synchronised swimming?

In my case, it was that 7-year-old catlet was scared of diving from the starting blocks into a shallow 50m pool, but liked to play in the deep end and see how long I could stay afloat. The athletic club to which we belonged had a robust swim program and was trying to build up the synchro team, so I got traded for a girl who didn't like opening her eyes underwater.

Re: Tonya Harding - she used to train at a mall ice rink just outside Portland. My parents knew one of her coaches so sometimes we'd say hi after shopping.
posted by catlet at 8:59 PM on July 31, 2012


My uncle was a two time Special Olympics weightlifter. And I've got a couple cousins who were Olympic hockey players but I'm Canadian so that's not really unusual around here.
posted by Mitheral at 9:08 PM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]


My sister was in the nationals for rugby, but the timing didn't work out for the London games; she is also a v. good wrestler, but apparently Canadian weight classes are weird.
posted by PinkMoose at 9:25 PM on July 31, 2012


Serious question: how do you get into synchronised swimming?

My college had a team that competed nationally. (Even internationally! My first big meet was in Montreal.) I had been on my high school diving and gymnastics teams, and have always preferred playing in the water to just swimming laps, so synchro sounded like fun. I learned to swim before I learned to walk, so I felt comfortable under water for long periods.

Synchronized swimming is often the butt of jokes, but it's actually a really tough sport.
posted by Superplin at 10:24 PM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]


I work with a guy who carried the Olympic torch through Birkenhead this year. He got his picture in the National Portrait Gallery as a result, but I think that's poor compensation for running through Birkenhead.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:32 PM on July 31, 2012


I think that's poor compensation for running through Birkenhead

Hey! Birkenhead is... Oh, who am I kidding, it's a shithole that's starting to look bleaker than it did in the 80s.

In a roundabout way that reminds me of my other Olympic connection: I came this close to knocking Chris Boardman off his bike with my car once - he gave me a proper evil glare as he swerved around the bonnet of the Fiat Panda.
posted by jack_mo at 12:13 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Misha, those transportation guys on horses would be the police ;-). Half hour wait to get to Wembley Park tube tis pretty standard ( and it was worse before they upgraded the station a few years ago).

Nice account; I was at Old Trafford for two games and the atmosphere was great. I'm on the train now heading for Newcastle to see New Zealand beat Brazil ( maybe).
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:30 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


With all due respects, I can't imagine an Olympian athlete of any kind, sitting on his/her ass all day & surfing Metafilter

Trevor Barron is an Olympic racewalker and computer science student. Which means that he is an Olympic athlete who spends an awful lot of time sitting on his ass in front of the computer (although maybe not surfing MetaFilter).

I found out about him because he's also in the Google Summer of Code this year, so he definitely spends a lot of time in front of the computer.
posted by cmonkey at 1:05 AM on August 1, 2012


"I know exactly what you mean about how awesome (and truly, 'awesome' is the right word here) it is just being in an Olympic crowd, even if your home team isn't playing. It's really hard to put into words just how amazing it is."

Yes. When I was a spectator in Vancouver in 2010 it was wonderful. There is something great about being part of the experience.
posted by litlnemo at 2:44 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, are there any actual Olympians among the users here? It's so hard to tell with all the self-congratulatory "I'm an Olympian because I sneezed near one while throwing my nerf javelin" noise.

Most real Olympians toil for years in total obscurity, and once every four years they get the opportunity to step in the spotlight. Congrats, self-centered children of MeFi, for appropriating that glory as your own.
posted by mkultra at 5:36 AM on August 1, 2012


Well, you're a shoe-in for a medal at the 500 meter buzzkill competition.
posted by The Whelk at 5:37 AM on August 1, 2012 [43 favorites]


> , for appropriating that glory as your own.

Really? Appropriating? It's just another silly Meta thread. It's not real. You'll be ok.
posted by Burhanistan at 5:50 AM on August 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


When someone asks a question about X and you respond by not answering the question but just talking about yourselves to the point where it's impossible to find an actual answer, then yeah, that's what's called appropriating.
posted by mkultra at 5:53 AM on August 1, 2012


*hugs mkultra*

I'm an Olympian at hugging.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:57 AM on August 1, 2012 [8 favorites]


There appears to be ONE MeFi olympian. So would you prefer that this thread consisted of an answer "Yes, there is one" and that's it? Or is it ok if we have a little fun? This isn't an AskMe thread, I think it's ok that we went a bit off topic. And the question also asked for "Olympics involved" MeFites. There's been a whole WHACK of interesting stories in here about people's experiences with the Olympics and brushes with Olympic athletes - far more of those, really, than the "I'm an Olympic beer drinker" variety of response, actually.
posted by antifuse at 6:11 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


When someone asks a question about X and you respond by not answering the question but just talking about yourselves to the point where it's impossible to find an actual answer, then yeah, that's what's called appropriating.

What's it called when a user stomps into a thread and takes a dump on it for not measuring up to their unreasonable expectations?

self-centered children

Bingo.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:33 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


*throws beans at everyone*

I am a champion bean-thrower. Maybe not Olympic levels of bean-throwing, but still pretty damn good.
posted by rtha at 6:36 AM on August 1, 2012


Such a party pooper. Gold medal effort, champ!
posted by h00py at 6:39 AM on August 1, 2012


Sleep! That's where I'm an Olympian!
posted by ardgedee at 6:40 AM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


This thread = Imma let you finish at the medal podium
posted by Burhanistan at 6:40 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've known one person quite well who was an Olympic gymnast, plus someone else who's coached a world champion, and I think has been involved in Olympics in some form, though I don't see that mentioned in their bio.

Also I've met or played a few people who went on to participate in Chess Olympiads later.

Btw, I don't think any of those folks would begrudge people kidding around about Olympic bean-throwing and the like. They'd get the spirit in which such things are said, which is a fun way of playing with "Being an Olympian = Awesome", and if anything is saying: "An Olympian? Me? I'm hardly qualified to be on the same planet!" You'd have to be pretty tone-deaf to think it is meant as anything else.
posted by philipy at 7:26 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


And now it's an Olympic pile-on!
posted by Burhanistan at 7:43 AM on August 1, 2012


100m pitchforking starts in 5..4..3..2..1..
posted by arcticseal at 8:20 AM on August 1, 2012


I qualified for the Junior Olympics in women's foil fencing when I was 16. The top three competitors from each state could go.

There were four of us at the qualifying rounds.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:49 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


HERMES: And what the Hades is up with these mortals calling themselves Olympians? That's textbook hubris -- we gotta think up some tragedies.
posted by Zed at 10:14 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


"There appears to be ONE MeFi olympian."

Wel...this is an error, of course, because one piece of data is just not enough to justify such a conclusion, but given that the visibility of this thread relative to the entire membership is low, and that we've found (allegedly, but I believe it) one mefite who is not only an Olympic athlete but competing in these very games, leads me to strongly suspect that there must be more.

But I also enjoyed the "child of a multiple medalling Olympian and world champion parents" and "nine gold medalist in-law-in-law" stories. The former especially.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:17 AM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I taught at an alternative high school down the street from the US Olympic Training Center. Two of my students competed in boxing in Beijing and I used to take kids on field trips to the Training Center all the time, even though I taught English. We would write haiku about the athletes. Rulon Gardner and Apollo Ohno were always super nice to visitors- actually all the athletes were.
It's a free tour and I highly recommend it if you are ever in Colorado .
posted by Isadorady at 10:53 AM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


My sister has competed against multiple members of the US Equestrian Team. She's also more recently taken up running -- I should ask her if she's competed against any Olympians there, too.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:43 PM on August 1, 2012


Apparently I am The Atlantic's favourite Olympian.

(Hint: I'm not.)
posted by Phire at 1:32 PM on August 1, 2012


I don't have cable, or decent reception, and I miss the Olympics.
posted by theora55 at 1:50 PM on August 1, 2012


My cousin coached the shooting team for 3 or 4 Olympics
posted by Mick at 2:47 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah? Well, I was Time magazine's Person of the Year seven years ago.
posted by grouse at 2:51 PM on August 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


My wife's horse is competing in dressage this year.
posted by drezdn at 3:54 PM on August 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't have cable, or decent reception, and I miss the Olympics.

I've been counting the days till I'm back in broadband nation to see that opening ceremony, myself. Just another 48 hours.
posted by infini at 3:58 PM on August 1, 2012


"There appears to be ONE MeFi olympian."

Wel...this is an error, of course, because one piece of data is just not enough to justify such a conclusion


Strictly speaking, all we know is that at least one person on MetaFilter is Olympian on at least one side.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 4:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


This young lady has the sassy appeal of a MeFite.

I'm pretty sure that's one of the comedians who was in the BBC show "3 Non Blondes." Anyone?
posted by mudpuppie at 4:31 PM on August 1, 2012


Pretty sure it's her. (NSFW, and possibly in poor taste.)
posted by mudpuppie at 4:33 PM on August 1, 2012


I have some video and photos from the games, too, if anyone's interested.

The IOC will probably serve you a C&D just for typing that out.
posted by vidur at 5:37 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


       .-=-.   .-=-.   .-=-.
      /     \ /     \ /     \
     |       |       |       |
      \    ./=\.   ./=\.    /
       '-=/'   '\-/'   '\=-'
         |       |       |
          \     / \     /
           '-=-'   '-=-'
posted by grouse at 5:55 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


My wife made the 1980 Olympic team in both the high jump and the 100m hurdles. Thanks to the the boycott that year, she never got to go. I've never been able to understand the way she shrugs it off without any bitterness.

Thirty years later, I stumbled on a list of Masters world records. She looked at the high jump record for her age category and said "chupado" (a piece of cake). A bit of investigation and we hatched a plan: the Masters European championships in Italy. They really know how to do the Masters competitions: 6 days of events and partying with only three days of actual competition. I was looking forward to being the guy they always cut to in the stands, looking nervous while his wife is standing on the track calm and concentrated, going for the world record.

She found a local track coach and convinced him to set up the bar for her to practice. A week later he had set up a meeting with the mayor, and they were already planning to ride my wife's world record to get the town to host an international competition. Meanwhile, she had gotten in shape but still hadn't actually jumped yet.

Her first training jump went perfectly. I guess that when you've trained so much, you still remember how to do it even after a thirty-year layoff. So she raised the bar to the world record and gave it a try. She cleared it easily, landed on the mat, bounced up and started walking away with her arms raised in the air in triumph.

She took two steps and a sound came across the track that sounded like someone ripping a giant piece of cloth in two. She thought it was her shoe that had come apart until she tried to take another step and collapsed in a heap. A ruptured Achilles tendon, an urgent operation, and six months of recovery, and for the second time she had to admit that her athletic career is finally over.

The surgeon told her that he found an auxiliary tendon that is present in very few people. She had always claimed that all Olympic athletes are mutants in some way. I guess some mutants are luckier than others.
posted by fuzz at 6:05 PM on August 1, 2012 [53 favorites]


I was a performer in the Sydney 2000 Olympic opening ceremony.

My running group ran the 35km drink station for the men's and women's marathons at the Olympics and Paralympics.
posted by trialex at 6:36 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I touched Ryan Lochte's butt once.

on my teevee
posted by elizardbits at 7:07 PM on August 1, 2012 [10 favorites]


Heh. My wife and I were just talking about Lochte's butt.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:09 PM on August 1, 2012


Metafilter: talking about Lochte's butt.
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 PM on August 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I grew up in a very small town in northern New York state. I was a kid in the summer of 1984 when people in the town realized that one of ours was competing on the women's handball team in the Olympics. We came in fifth but that didn't stop the town from having a Jan Trombly Day, complete with a parade. I was young enough to believe that this was such a big deal we'd have a parade on that day for ever more.
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:56 PM on August 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


Some of my teammates from high school (XC Skiing/Biathlon) and college (Rowing) are Olympians.

I mentioned to some friends that we're of that age now that our childhood friends are doing big things like going to the Olympics, and everyone called bullshit on me. So I guess I'm special in that not everyone has childhood friends in the Olympics. That's my Olympic brag :)
posted by jpeacock at 8:16 PM on August 1, 2012


Just remember I went to high school with a few Olympic snowboarders.

But Johnny Weir talking to my fetus was WAY more exciting.
posted by sonika at 8:20 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to high school with Kristine Lilly. They've named the soccer field after her.
posted by girlhacker at 8:50 PM on August 1, 2012


I feel we're moving away from Lochte's butt, here.
posted by The Whelk at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [12 favorites]


My mom worked as a bookkeeper at the interior construction company where Mike Eruzione worked. We went skiing with him when I was eleven, like a year after the Olympics. He was a nice guy from what i remember.
posted by not_on_display at 9:06 PM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


But Johnny Weir talking to my fetus was WAY more exciting.

what if your fetus touched Ryan Lochte's butt though.
posted by elizardbits at 9:19 PM on August 1, 2012


One of India's medal prospects grew up some four streets away from my home in India. My mom knows, and worked with, her dad some twenty years back. Can't personally claim to have met her though.
posted by the cydonian at 10:39 PM on August 1, 2012


A guy who went on to become a gold-medal swimmer sat behind me in high school Latin and used to tape his cheat sheet to the back of my chair.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:04 PM on August 1, 2012


A guy who went on to become a gold-medal swimmer sat behind me in high school Latin and used to tape his cheat sheet to the back of my chair.

Et tu, Michael Phelps?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:32 AM on August 2, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I was a postdoc at Berkeley (in astro), one of the other postdocs was a Dutch guy who had set some sort of world record in rowing. IIRC he was supposed to compete in the 2000 Olympics, and had left astronomy for a while to train, but ended up getting injured a week or two before the games and not being able to row. I couldn't imagine going through that -- devoting your life to something for so long, leaving your other pursuits and career goals behind, and then not being able to compete -- but he was gracious and unassuming about the whole thing. And I guess it worked out okay for him; he's on the astro faculty back in the Netherlands now. His wife/partner was also a rower; she won a silver medal in Sydney.

The physical contrast between the two of them and most of the rest of us was ... let's just say that if you lined up all the astrophysics postdocs at Berkeley in a row, you would not have had a hard time picking out the one who was an Olympic-level athlete.

Oh, and also the fencing instructor at my undergrad institution was the Olympic fencing coach for Egypt for a while, and is now the US men's fencing coach. Everyone had to take some sort of PhysEd requirement to graduate, oddly enough, and Fencing counted -- so he ended up teaching fencing to a lot of bored undergrads. My friends who took his class said that for the first semester he mostly just had them do a bunch of squats, lunges, etc, and not so much actual messing around with a sword, to their everlasting dismay. He also repeatedly said you had to strike "liiiike a snaaake," which for some reason has stuck with me.
posted by chalkbored at 4:44 AM on August 2, 2012


I went to high school with 2-time gold medalist-fireball-throwing softball pitcher Michelle Smith, and one of the partners at my wife's firm was a member of the '80 rowing team that didn't get to go to Moscow.
posted by jalexei at 6:58 AM on August 2, 2012


After winning the Indiana state championship, I was in the 1995 junior olympics for 3 position rifle and 3 position air rifle. I spent a couple of weeks training with the US team at the olympic training center in Colorado Springs. On of my teammates was Jayme Dickman, who went on to shoot in the Sydney olympics and was the top ranked female shooter in the world for a while.

All of my equipment was stolen from the back of my car late in 1995, just before I finished high school. At the time, I was agonizing over whether to accept a shooting scholarship to follow the path of NCAA -> Olympics vs. studying computer science, which seemed far more promising in terms of career advancement. I used the insurance money for my stolen gear to purchase a computer and pay part of my first year of tuition (shooting equipment is not cheap).
posted by drklahn at 7:22 AM on August 2, 2012 [5 favorites]


I went to high school with Michelle Kwan (when she was *at* school and not training, which was rare - it was usually a big deal when she was on campus). A lot of figure skaters trained at the rinks in our town so I had brushes with other kids who went on to the Olympics later. And a few months after graduation Kerri Strug came into the fast food restaurant where I worked in Long Beach and ordered a burrito. Then she came BACK up to the counter and asked for extra salsa. I pointed her in the direction of the condiment bar.
posted by annathea at 7:55 AM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once went on a four-hour road trip with a girl who turned out to be an Olympic shooter. Had I known that, I would have been slightly less snarky to her about our game of G-H-O-S-T.
posted by coppermoss at 8:17 AM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I once went on a four-hour road trip with a girl who turned out to be an Olympic shooter. Had I known that, I would have been slightly less snarky to her about our game of G-H-O-S-T.

I experienced a lot of cognitive dissonance as a competitive shooter. I'm a serious leftie and essentially a pacifist, but I also had to become a lifetime member of the NRA to compete effectively in my sport (I'm a registered "Distinguished Expert," which is the highest rank in the NRA system). I grew up around guns and gun culture, and I own a couple of guns used for competition, but believe in much stronger gun control laws. I used to work with a product manager who was a highly-ranked NCAA archer, and the running gag at the company was that we were the deadliest team.
posted by drklahn at 8:48 AM on August 2, 2012


And a few months after graduation Kerri Strug came into the fast food restaurant where I worked in Long Beach and ordered a burrito

Kerri Strug eats burritos? I eat burritos.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:01 AM on August 2, 2012 [9 favorites]


A buddy of mine is the team mechanic for the US track cycling team; and I used to get my ass kicked by this guy.
posted by Mister_A at 9:10 AM on August 2, 2012


A cousin is on the current Italian Setterosa (waterpolo team) - vai Giulia!
posted by progosk at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2012


annathea: "And a few months after graduation Kerri Strug came into the fast food restaurant where I worked in Long Beach and ordered a burrito. Then she came BACK up to the counter and asked for extra salsa."

Just imagining this in that squeaky high pitched voice of hers makes me want to jam a pen in my ear.
posted by I am the Walrus at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2012


In college, I picked Kerri Strug up from the airport. (She was close friends with a friend of mine.)

As far as less well-known Olympians go, I was in a class with Gabe Jennings, who was a nice guy. (though I was surprised that he was an elite athlete as opposed to a major stoner.)

Finally, a good college friend's father was the US Women's Rowing coach, and is, apparently, now the German women's coach.

These are all a tad lame, I guess. Ah well.
posted by JMOZ at 11:54 AM on August 2, 2012


I live near DeWitt, Michigan, and a lot of my friends have kids who take gymnastics at the gym where Jordyn Wieber trains. One of my friends commented on Facebook the other day that she was there one day for her daughter's class, and she saw this person streaking by out of the corner of her eye. She turned, and saw Jordyn Wieber do the tumbling run that she still uses as the opening of her floor routine.

One of the things that interested me about this story is the idea that an Olympic-class athlete could be working out in the same gym where ordinary kids are taking regular gymnastics classes. Apparently sometimes even at the same time.
posted by not that girl at 2:37 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


A friend of mine won the bronze medal in archery at the Beijing Paralympics. I've actually gotten to hold that medal -- it's surprisingly dense and heavy!
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 4:26 PM on August 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


ChuraChura: "an Olympic race walker who was disqualified very close to the end of the World Championships for having both feet leave the ground at the same time"

Apparently this is very easy to do. The Wiki page for racewalking has a photo of some walkers in the midst of a race. Two out of the six, or fully one third have no feet touching the ground in the photo, including the lead person in the group.
posted by wierdo at 7:03 PM on August 2, 2012


Earlier today, a guy I knew in high school was outscored by USA Basketball 156-0.
posted by acidic at 7:11 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


My husband's brother works for them. Bill Patrick, if you want to do a find in that link. He was also the guy who announced the USA winning at hockey at the last Winter Olympics.

The story goes: he was not really getting any good spots, and we all were feeling for him, because it was a big deal for his career.

At the end of the hockey game, it was assumed the US were losing, so Bob Costas was off and running to his next gig, that is, reporting elsewhere. The hockey game went into overtime, and my BIL was put on the desk to announce the win. It was a big deal for him and we were all very proud of him.

This is a guy who started out at a small TV station in Connecticut, and worked his way up. Things happen, contracts don't get renewed, and he had been out of work for a while before he got into VS. (now MSNBC Sports) and NBC on the weekends -- you know, the guy after the ice skating, the Lincoln Financial report. Getting older, competition, pressure, changes in management, etc.

But I'll tell you what: in his heart, he is just a guy trying to do a good job at what he's good at. He knows a fuckton about sports. And he loves the environment and is always pushing people to pay more attention to it. He comes up to Maine to get some relief and takes photos, then he donates the sales. Yes, he is high energy and frenetic at times, but he has a big heart, and well, next time you want to bitch on some sportscasters ass, realize they are real people who really do care about the world, not just their next manicure. Go USA!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 7:46 PM on August 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am a Viking in my sleep!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:22 PM on August 2, 2012


My brother went to Berkeley with a guy named Amin Nikfar. They were also in the same fraternity. Amin threw shot put for Cal. He is six foot four, two hundred seventy pounds. His nickname is "Tiny."

Tiny was born in Santa Clara, but his parents were from Iran. His performance was good enough that the Iranian national track and field team asked him to compete for them. Hey, chance to travel the world and throw the rock? Hell, yes, says Tiny, and he goes and sets the Iranian record for shot put.

He went to Beijing, and now's he's in London. I hope that dumb Facebook widget gives me plenty of notice when he's up. LONDON CALLING, TINY.
posted by RakDaddy at 8:57 PM on August 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


*cough* Canada won the hockey in the Winter Olympics.
posted by arcticseal at 10:16 PM on August 2, 2012


My kids loved the movie miracle on ice about the 1980 US hockey gold medal team. One day, a futures broker comes into my office and introduces himself. We we trying to find ways we could do businessi looked at his card one more time. Jack Callahan. I've heard that name before. Turns out I heard it three days before watching the movie and of course heard it live in 1980. Yup, he was a pivotal player on that team. Hews also a great broker. I think the competitive nature ofbothsportandtradingwastailored for him. He is also a really ice guy who gladly signed autographs for my three kids.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:22 PM on August 2, 2012


My Olympic moment:
I met Brian Boitano. Shortly after he won the gold, he turned up for a Brian Boitano Day in San Jose, with a big, fancy event at the Fairmont Hotel downtown. I was invited as press.

Boitano is a local boy who grew up in the Silicon Valley. The area also has an excellent training facility for figure skating. Kristi Yamaguchi also comes from around here, as does Rudy Gallindo.
posted by markkraft at 2:58 AM on August 3, 2012


(Oh, and yes, the rumors are true. Brian Boitano is... San Franciscan.)
posted by markkraft at 2:59 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


My first crush was on swimmer Caroline Burkle, who went to my elementary school.
posted by meows at 4:26 AM on August 3, 2012


What are the odds that you know an Olympian or someone close to an Olympian (like neighbors, relatives, etc., as many of the examples here are)?

Confining ourselves to the US: There are 529 members of the US team this year. Let's assume that this is a typical number, but that from Olympiad to Olympiad there are some repeaters, so over the past 6 Olympiads (24 years), let's figure that 2500 individuals have been on the team.

Now let's assume that each Olympian has a circle of 10 close relatives, neighbors, friends, associates that qualify, for the purposes of this post, as rubbing shoulders. Counting the Olympians themselves, that means 27,500 people. The US population is 314 million. So, only one out of every 11,418 people is in the inner circle (going back 24 years).

Then, let's assume that on average, you "know" 500 people. (Guestimates are all over the lot on this one, and you may well know 1,000, but we need to use an average.) That means the odds are about 1 in 23 that an Olympian from one of the last 6 Olympiads, or a member of their inner circle, is among the people you know. If you expand this to "people you've ever met," the odds get much better, depending on how much you get around.
posted by beagle at 11:37 AM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Tiny was up today, and he didn't qualify.
posted by RakDaddy at 1:24 PM on August 3, 2012


Earlier today, a guy I knew in high school was outscored by USA Basketball 156-0.

156-73 perhaps?
posted by biffa at 1:28 PM on August 3, 2012


That means the odds are about 1 in 23 that an Olympian from one of the last 6 Olympiads, or a member of their inner circle, is among the people you know.
1- You're underestimating the number of repeaters. This year Team USA has 228 returning Olympians. Although that is offset by the large number of foreign athletes who actually live in the US.
2- You're assuming that Olympians are randomly distributed, but they are emphatically not. Yes, Olympians have "normal" family friends and neighbors like everyone else, but the reason they're Olympians is that they were immersed in their sport from a young age; therefore, their social circle contains a disproportionate number of fellow athletes. So if you know one Olympian, chances are you know a lot of Olympians.

156-73 perhaps?
Well, he personally scored zero points. But did have that one really crucial rebound.
posted by acidic at 1:41 PM on August 3, 2012


oh huh... if it's bike racers, then probably too many to mention. George Mount was one of my very first internet "friends" way back in the early 90s when he and I were both on the Compuserve cycling forum. I bought a Motorola team jacket from Frankie Andreu at the A to Z crit in Athens, Ohio in '96 when they were selling all their old team stuff out of the van when that team shut down.

then there was the time I took a couple of local cyclocross clinics at the shop with Taylor Phinney back when he was just a gangly teenager starting out (he is really freaking tall for a bike racer just fyi). His mom Connie Carpenter (before she married Davis Phinney) beat my ass quite soundly in a number of criteriums in the Midwest (Bloomington, Indy, SuperWeek, etc.) way back when both of us were in our twenties and they didn't bother having more than one Open category for women racers.

I've also ridden in the same group ride / pack with George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton north of Boulder when they came to town for a training camp, and they caught our team paceline and started chatting with our coach (who is a close friend to a relatively well known former racer). Oh and Tyler once ran alongside me cheering and gave me the burliest push I've ever gotten in a hillclimb race that ran past his former home on Fourmile Canyon (I absolutely suck at hillclimbs and that one in particular is brutal so I was probably gunning for last place in the old ladies' category, but for a moment I was absolutely flying, it was so cool). I've also seen him from time to time in a local coffeeshop and he always says hi, although he's got no reason to recognize me. He's a really really nice guy, despite what anyone says about him.

Oh right and Christian VandeVelde used to live near us in North Boulder, and once rode with me for several miles on a muddy dirt back road in a minor snowstorm. He told me he thought my cyclocross bike was "really cool" (it was a brand new fully Campagnolo equipped Colnago which was rare enough in the States ten years ago to be noteworthy). He was on a filthy, battered, 3-year-old team issue USPS team road bike and looking forward to four or five more hours of slogging through the mud and snow when I turned off to head home at the end of the dirt road. Those guys are so fit and so focused and dedicated that it's frankly humbling. And Christian has always been the epitome of incredibly down to earth and pleasant to be around, whether he's racing or just chilling.

But cycling as a sport is a really, really, really small fishbowl, and it's easy to know these folks, especially living in one of the central training magnet communities. These big pros just randomly do show up on our local group training rides and at weekend races.

years and years ago I took lessons from one of the Seoul games competitors in equestrian eventing, but my folks couldn't afford the horses or trainers for me to go for it in any serious fashion, tho I did make it to a couple of FEI 2 and 3 star events. then I had a big nasty show jumping fall and discovered that I, too "am basically way too chicken to jump gigantic scary fences that can eat you." *sad face*
posted by lonefrontranger at 4:15 PM on August 3, 2012 [5 favorites]


I used to fence on the same team with the Australian Olympic fencer Jo Halls and often fenced against her sister Evelyn Halls - who failed to qualify for the Olympics this year.
posted by gomichild at 9:04 PM on August 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh! I forgot one! I met Christine Magnuson when she was a skinny 6-foot teenager. She swam on the same swim team as my daughter (who, alas, gave up swimming in second grade), and her dad was my husband's swim coach in high school.

I really am the queen of inconsequential brushes with Olympian Greatness.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:50 AM on August 4, 2012


The Women's Gymnastics All-Around winners from the 2004 and 2008 games both trained in a gym in my hometown. Apparently people I know knew Nastia Liukin in elementary school (she's my age). I also knew kids who went to the same gym as them as kids, some of whom were I guess pretty promising gymnasts; I remember a friend of mine having a t-shirt from the Karolyi training camp, not that I knew what that was at the time.

The gym's original location is next door to the location of the supermarket my family went to when I was a kid; I had a total "whaaaaa" moment when I realized that Plano gymnastics place was THAT Plano gymnastics place.
posted by MadamM at 12:22 PM on August 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dan Jansen's wife Karen was a member of the girls' golf team that my dad coached when she was in high school. She and my dad still keep in touch.

There have been a number of Olympians from my alma mater

My closest encounter with an actual Olympian was when I met Bill Demong when he made an appearance at the Chicago Auto Show last year. He had his gold medal with him and he let me try it on. It was much heavier than I expected.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:45 PM on August 4, 2012


Oh! Forgot one. When I was interning at Advertising Age in college, I went to the press conference where Dorothy Hamill announced she was selling the Ice Capades.
posted by SisterHavana at 12:58 PM on August 4, 2012


My sister just posted a photo of herself hanging out today with Tad Coffin, USET gold medalist from 1976.
posted by gingerbeer at 12:17 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ultimate Fighting isn't an Olympic sport, but this seems as good a place as any to post this.

Being on the same high school swimming and water polo teams as the daughter of Randy "The Natural" Couture was only a big deal when she decided to play dirty (ouch) and when Mr. Couture showed up at meets to help out as a parent timer. I swam nothing but PRs when he was holding the stopwatch.
posted by StrangerInAStrainedLand at 10:49 PM on August 5, 2012


It turns out that one of the U.S. bronze medalists in rowing is a Redditor (NSFW). I think it's awesome that his previous contributions to Reddit consist in giving rowing advice and discussing Game of Thrones.
posted by grouse at 8:56 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've played against a London Roller Girl who skated in this year's opening ceremonies!
posted by stompadour at 10:24 AM on August 7, 2012


One of my friend's from high school is married to this year's bronze medalist in shot put.
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:43 PM on August 7, 2012


*friends. (edit button, grumble, grumble)
posted by whimsicalnymph at 8:52 PM on August 7, 2012


I really wish they went with derby names in that article featuring LRG.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:21 AM on August 8, 2012


I went to high school with and was on the school swim team with Olympic swimmer Joanne Malar. We always cleaned up at meets when she had the time to show up and swim, which wasn't often.

She was a few years younger and I actually knew her older sister better, but there was some overlap in our circles of friends — a good friend of mine briefly dated her teammate; I was close with her sister's best friend — so we hung out at her parent's place occasionally.
posted by howling fantods at 10:39 AM on August 8, 2012


It turns out that one of the U.S. bronze medalists in rowing is a Redditor (NSFW).

A Candid Interview With America’s ‘Boner Rower’
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2012


> My colleague Boris's son Mark is competing this year.

... and just took bronze in the K-1 200-metre race: Canada's Mark de Jonge wins bronze in men's kayak.
posted by scruss at 3:51 AM on August 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Found out a distant acquaintance is competing in the modern penthathlon for the US - Suzanne Stettinius.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:09 AM on August 11, 2012


Coming to the party late but an Australian weight lifter also provides coaching to the sports team I used to work for. Nice dude but HUGER than HUGE.
posted by latch24 at 9:15 PM on August 12, 2012


Also very late to the party and with an equine Olympian: I used to ride (horses) with a trainer who was an early owner of show jumper Touch of Class. With rider Joe Fargis, Touch of Class won two gold medals for the USA at the 1984 Olympics.
posted by swerve at 9:51 PM on August 14, 2012


I was in China during the olympics and so I heard a lot about badminton and taught english to one of the highest-seeded players in Harbin.
posted by mecran01 at 8:23 PM on August 19, 2012


Debbie Armstrong was my camp counselor one year.
posted by susanbeeswax at 10:04 PM on August 22, 2012


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