Chasing Gold: The Olympic Experience
July 29, 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.
Saturday July 28th
Not much going on in the morning. Today is our last practice before the first match tomorrow. Decided after breakfast this morning to walk around London a bit. So I walked along the water all the way to London Bridge, which was around an hour walk from the hotel. The area along the water in this part of town was much like a walk along Venice Beach in Southern California - very diverse, eclectic and full of energy. And, with a million extra people in town, crowded as well. At the end of the walk I knew I was close to the Oakley Safe House. What happens at the Games is that many organizations and companies have "houses" where athletes, coaches and those associated with the Olympics, can go to get away from all the craziness. Nike, Oakley, Proctor and Gamble, to name a few, have a USA Houses for American athletes, where only those associated with those companies are allowed access to these houses (there are some who allow guests of selected patrons), where there is food, drink, computers for personal use, video gaming. In the places like Oakley, there is product for athletes and special amenities that go along with being a contracted athlete. My connection with Oakley was from my years in Major League Baseball. It was good to go inside, sit down on a couch and watch TV coverage of the Games, have something to eat and relax with good and new friends. The Oakley Safe House is a three-story structure that was a museum and was constructed from scratch by the person who handles the Olympic Games for Oakley. Huge flat screen TV's, computer lounge and a couple of cafes, tons of glasses and great hospitality.
Practice tonight was great. The guys worked on serving and receiving and worked up a good sweat. There is a two-story VIP lounge overlooking the practice courts where folks were "prepping" for the night session giving us a small crowd of folks (a few "Go USA's" coming out of the onlookers) during our practice.
A good tune up for the day before. To the hotel for a late dinner and then late to bed, so that I am fresh for the 10 p.m. match and the weight training session at noon.
Sunday July 29th
Breakfast in the lounge had all of us including the two teams that played last night and won, was full of energy. Keri (Walsh) and Misty (May) were meeting with their coach to go over video and Jake (Gibb) and Sean (Rosenthal) were thrilled that there match only took 33 minutes. Todd, Phil and I chatted mostly about the practice, lunch and dinner times and when we wanted the car to take us to the venue.
As for the hotel vs. the Village issue. Back in '08, Karch Kiraly (arguably the greatest player in the history of volleyball indoors or outdoors) had told us NOT to stay at the Village. Reason being that most athletes in the Village only compete for a few short days then spend the remainder of the Games celebrating. We, on the other hand, will be playing every-other-day, needing our sleep and trying to focus. Fortunately, USOC and U.S. Volleyball honored the request of the players by putting us at a hotel with our own transportation, meals and amenities. Here, the venue is 20 minutes from the Village by train; the HPC is 45 minutes by train (driving takes much longer for both due to traffic); and only a 10-minute walk from the hotel.
Practice was a light hour of "pepper", serving and a little passing. It rained for most of the practice and it was pretty cold and wet. It's supposed to rain up to 8 p.m. and we play at 10 p.m. We will leave her around at 8 p.m. to check-in in time and get a good warm-up. Should be about 15, 000 tonight for the match. Let the Games begin!
Editor's Note: Dalhausser and Rogers won their opening match over the Japanese duo of Kentaro Asahi and Katsuhiro Shiratori, 21-15, 21-16.