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From Inside The Olympic Village

Gary Gardner’s London Blog: Bumps, Big Names, Tight Security

Cape Verde track suit

Gary Gardner, Director of Cross Country and Track
& Field at UMass Lowell, will blog periodically from the London 2012
Olympic Games as he and former River Hawk standout Ruben Sanca (’09, MBA ’10) are representing Sanca’s native Cape Verde in the 5,000. The two can also be followed via @Sanca617 and @UMLTrackCoach, as well as UMass Lowell’s Olympic Page.

July 26: Bumps, Big Names, Tight Security

Ruben and I are pretty settled here in Olympic Village. We’ve hit a few
bumps along the way. This morning I woke up with conjunctivitis, but
thankfully the service here was fantastic and I was seen by a doctor and
had eye drops in less than 15 minutes.

The second bump was the testing of the firework display at midnight for
the opening ceremony 200 meters from our fifth story window while Ruben
and I were asleep. The final and most important bump is a touch of
swelling in Ruben’s knee. Yesterday we had a physical therapist work on
him; we had him run on the alter G treadmill, get a massage and then get
in the ice bath. The knee did feel a bit better this morning and we had
him run normally but his second run will again be on the alter G today.
 
This morning Ruben and I ran through Olympic Park past all the venues
including the basketball arena, BMX park, field hockey and volleyball
venues, velodrome, Olympic stadium (I am sure I am missing a few). It
was really a very inspiring run. We stumbled into a neighborhood park to
run a few miles in just outside the gate of the warm-up track. We also
got a chance to jog a few laps on the warm-up track just outside
the main stadium to help Ruben get used to that area for the big day on
August 8th.
 
We have spotted a few “big names” in the village: several world
champions, the U.S. women’s gymnastics and U.S. swimming team ate at the
table next to us on Wednesday night. The U.S. track and field (or for
the rest of the world athletic team) arrives at the village today. In
every country but the United States, track and field is called
athletics. More often than not, if you say ‘track and field’ people give
you a funny look.
 
Security here is very tight. Just on our run today, we got stopped at
six gates to check credentials by computer scan and went through four
metal detectors all for 50-minute run. The entrance to our apartment is
just across a walkway from the Israeli team which always has 2-4 guards
with machine guns in the street. Its amazing what you can get used to in
a few days – now we just say hi when we see them. The first day or so
it was pretty intimidating.
 
We will try to update you again after the opening ceremony tomorrow.
Both Ruben and I will be marching in the Cape Verde delegation. Today we
also have the welcome ceremony to officially welcome Cape Verde to the
Olympic Village (a ceremony is held for each country).
Thanks again for everyone who has sent emails and messages of support. its great to hear from you.

July 24: Settling in the Olympic Village

Ruben and I have arrived in London safely. We have now been up for over
27  hours and it’s only noon here. The flight over was perfect – six
hours before landing at Heathrow airport direct from Boston. The
organizing committee met us at the airport and took care of everything
to get us on the shuttle and fast tracked us through customs. On
the ride to the Olympic Village we passed London Bridge, Buckingham
Place, Thames River and Olympic Stadium. It was quite a ride.
 
We are now settled in Olympic Village and have met the rest of the Cape
Verde delegation. Between coaches, athletes, a doctor and officials,
there are 10 total people in London. The Village is quite large with
everything an athlete needs to prepare. The security here has been quite
tight, stopping each bus and searching it completely along with
everyone on the bus before entering the Village. The dining hall
is enormous with different areas set aside for food from each part of
the world. Ruben and I had pasta and cereal for lunch – not very daring
on our first venture.
 
We will have our first workout in London shortly then hopefully to bed
early. Thanks for all the support from the entire UMass Lowell
community.

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