Chasing Gold: The Olympic Experience
July 28, 2012
Bob Alejo, NC State's assistant athletic director for strength and conditioning, is in London for the Olympics. He'll be blogging about his Games experience. Coach Alejo is there to assist defending beach volleyball gold medalists, Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, in their attempt to win it again.
Wednesday July 25th
First practice today. Looking forward to that. Took the train to the Olympic Village today just to check it out. It is pretty amazing when you consider the size of the housing development. Everything is contained in the compound from cafeteria to post office. A city within a city. Pretty cool to be walking around and passing groups of country after country of athletes. I met up with Todd and Phil so we can travel into downtown London to look at the hotel and get our bearings on where the hotel is in relationship to the venue. The hotel is what you'd think a classic London hotel would like - a bit majestic, beautiful dark wood interiors and a warm welcome at the door. For me, I wanted to see how the lifting platform looked in the fitness center and it looked perfectly placed. Good news - a spa is connected to the gym with steam, sauna and Jacuzzi. The hotel and the USOC did a great job in accommodating us.
Took the train back to the High Performance Center and only got lost once. A victory for me!
As you would suppose, the practice session had its share of media. Chris Marlowe (whom I've known for years; doing volleyball a long time), Heather Cox (she attended our matches at the last Olympics) and Kevin Wong (a three-time All American walk-on at UCLA whom I coached) from NBC. And, of course some international media as well. For those of you who don't know, FIVB (Federation of International Volleyball) is the governing body for volleyball - indoors and outdoors - and the Swatch World Tour is where the boys play from April-October in the sand. Ergo, the international media because the tour is overseas.
After the warm-up our scheduled practice was on center court. We decided to scrimmage against the other men's team Jake Gibb/Sean Rosenthal to get good work in. A solid practice session. The venue is beautiful.
Thursday July 26th
An 11a.m. practice today. Unlike the 9 p.m. practice it was sunny! Imagine that. Great to be outside. Today was a serve and pass day with a little hitting. I usually help out by being part of the drills, serving, catching passes, etc. It looks like wind might be a factor; it was in the stadium even in the evening. As Bryan Bunn will tell you it does not take much to get the ball to move with some wind, especially with a float serve. On defense you end up trying to receive a knuckleball - not easy. The stadium is not a full bowl. The side opposite the press box is half the height of the rest of the stadium so it creates a different wind. Todd and Phil spent some time discussing and working on the wind. After the hour-long session we headed back to the HPC for some training. This session was a bit lighter in intensity than Tuesday but still a solid 45 minutes of work. Again, the speed of movement was what I was looking for- Power.
A little dinner after the session and a chance to talk about what has transpired this week. So far so good. The guys feel good. They like the sand conditions (its deep) and the training session, and I sense they are eager to start already.
At dinner I was able to meet up with a couple of old friends. Kyle Pierce who is the coach for USA Weightlifting's top lifter Kendrick Farris. I've known Kyle for some time through strength and conditioning and the weightlifting community. Good to sit with him and talk training.
Don Babbitt, who threw the javelin at UCLA back in the day and is coaching at the University of Georgia, has had a stellar career coaching throwers. He currently is coaching the No. 1 thrower in the world, Reese Hoffa. Again, talking training with those who train the elite is always an education. In all the conversations over the years with these types of coaches, I found there is nothing fancy going on here. And, even though the training methods might be different for each sport, the common theme remains the same - commitment!
Friday July 27th
Early morning today - the USOC sent a bus to pick up our luggage to be moved from the Marriott at 8 a.m. I'm still struggling with the time change so 8 a.m. was early!
Not much on the schedule today with Opening Ceremonies. All the athletes (those that want to participate) get ready pretty early and the ceremonies go into the evening. So it would have been too difficult to get anything done today, including the fact that there was a volleyball technical meeting at 11:30 a.m. I thought I'd hang around the training center and watch a few sessions. I was able to watch Kendrick Farris train and chat with Kyle while we watched. The excitement of the day was Michele Obama speaking at the training center for a bit. I also was able to watch Geno Auriemma and the women's basketball team workout for a few minutes.
Looking forward to the Games beginning tomorrow and our last practice session before we play!