Cornellians decribe their experiences from watching the 2012 Olympic games in London and from the comfort of home.When someone is asked to think about international competition in the realm of a vast variety of sports, people usually think of the Olympics. From Michael Phelps winning his 22nd Olympic medal to the downfall of Cornell alumna Morgan Uceny ’07 in the 1500-meter dash, everyone seems to know a bit about the historic games.
While watching the opening ceremony, people from around the world witnessed an artistic interpretation of England, which highlighted the industrial nature of London, J.K. Rowling and even creatures that go bump in the night. The closing ceremony was just as artistic with performances by English talent such as Jessie J and the iconic Spice Girls. The beauty of the performances was just the tip of the iceberg for the three-week spectacle that included athletics, music, history and a bit of record breaking to top it all off.
In addition to the three former Red athletes and men’s track and field and cross country head coach Nathan Taylor, Cornell had a huge presence in London, with some Cornellians making the trip over the pond to view the spectacle, as well as countless others watching from the edge of their couches at home cheering on the red, white and blue.
“It was a great experience to stay at home and watch my hometown [hero] Elizabeth Beisel win silver and bronze in swimming,” said sophomore Katie Morin, who swims for the Red. “As an athlete whose sport who only gets recognized every four years, it is amazing to see how the world gets so involved in swimming.”
While seeing Beisel compete in the Games was a great experience for Morin as a fellow swimmer, the chance to see her daughter medal among the most talented competitors in the world was a moment of great pride for Elizabeth’s mother, Joanie Beisel.
“I was especially proud [of Elizabeth during] the backstroke because the two Americans were on the stand and we got to here the National Anthem [for them],” she said. “That was the proudest moment, when I got to hear it when Elizabeth was on the stand.”
The atmosphere at the Olympics between the athletes, their families and the fans was electrifying. Not only were years of blood, sweat and tears put to the test, but hours and hours of training came down to, in some cases, just seconds.
“My favorite [moment] for the Olympics was the night after the 4 IM because we hadn’t seen Elizabeth,” Joanie Biesal said. “She came up to the stands that we were sitting in and brought her silver medal with her.”
Laura Bakst, a sophomore at Cornell, was able to attend the Games through an opportunity with Fulbright. She described the atmosphere in London as unifying for the fans that traveled from around the world to root for their countries, as well as many of the other athletes.
“You could sense the excitement and pride everywhere during the Olympics — on the streets, at the venues and throughout the entire country,” Bakst said. “It was incredible to see how people really came together, regardless of nationalities and backgrounds, to celebrate and cheer on all of the athletes.”
Those that watched from the comforts of their home felt connected to the fight and determination of the athletes as well, according to sophomore Callie Shubin.
“I loved the gymnastics and synchronized diving — they were amazing,” she said. “I followed the reporting about it nonstop, especially through Twitter.”
Junior Taylor Bicchieri shared Shubin’s same excitement for watching the Games.
“I love the Olympics every time it’s on,” she added. “This year I really loved the Fierce Five. I think the girls are really inspirational and show that hard work can get you where they want to go. Aly Raisman is my favorite for being the first American woman to win gold on the floor routine.”
Cornellians alike seemed to enjoy the peace and seeming harmony that the Olympic Games brought, not just on the playing field, but off of it as well. The athletic competition became more than just a race for gold, silver or bronze; it became a bonding event that brought millions of people together.
“I think the Olympics are great because for three weeks the world kind of coexists peacefully and people respect each other for what they do,” Morin said.