For all of us, but surely even more so for top athletes, our first memory of the Olympic games is something special, and for beach volleyball player Adrian Gavira Collado (ESP) it is a dream fulfilled:
“The first time that I remember seeing the Olympic games Pablo Herrera and Javier Bosma were playing in Athens 2004. I didn’t play beach volleyball yet. Now I’m playing with Pablo here in London…incredible!”
For Todd Rogers (USA) it was the Games and athletes of his home country that he remembers as his first Olympic memory, while for Misty May-Treanor (USA) it was even closer to home:
“My very first Olympic memory was of Carl Lewis dominating in Los Angeles in 1984 in the 100, 200, 4 X 100 relay and the long jump. Really neat thing to see and made more poignant by the fact he was an American and did it on American soil.”
“Florence Grifith-Joyner was an awesome track athlete. And my dad was a ’68 Olympian for Volleyball. So I remember seeing his pictures and hearing his stories from back in those days.”
Every four years the host country faces the challenge of trying to come up with ever more spectacular venues and facilities and the volleyball players are particularly impressed with the venues in London.
For British women’s captain Lynne Beattie it will be on home soil:
“Earls Court is a fantastic venue in the heart of London and I am really excited to play there in front of 15,000 home supporters.”
The beach volleyball players are especially impressed with the venue at Horse Guards Parade. Americans Todd and Misty had not yet been there but had seen pictures:
“I have never been there but I have seen pictures and it looks amazing. Everyone I have spoken to within and without of the sport of Beach Volleyball has said it will be the coolest venue in all of London so I am really looking forward to playing there and checking it out.” commented Todd, while Misty said “It’ll be my first time in London. I understand the venue is really awesome. I’ve seen pictures of the location without the stadium. I think we’re one of the few that are centrally located, so it’ll be fun.”
Of course the Olympics is also a chance for the players to meet stars from other sports and see them in action. Tennis seemed to be pretty popular for some reason with a number of the players eager to see the top seeds in action:
“I’d like to see some Tennis maybe. In particular the top players,” said Greta Cicolari (ITA) while her partner Marta Menegatti (ITA) was keen to watch the Gymnastics “I’d like to see Gymnastics in general because I’ve always loved it since I was a little girl.”
Both Chen Xu (CHN) and Adrian were also interested in catching the tennis stars in action “I would like to check out a game of tennis and basketball,” said Adrian while for Chen it was all about his country’s tennis star “Definitely the tennis – I’ll be cheering for Li Na!”
Finally we wanted to know what the Olympic Games meant to them personally.
For Lynne the Games are a testament to how far the team has progressed.
“The Olympic Games means everything to me and the team. It will be the first time in history that Great Britain has competed at the volleyball event at the Olympics. We didn’t exist as a team five years ago, so to have come so far in such a short space of time is amazing. It will be our dream come true.”
For Marta the Games are a culmination of the last four years of work. “The Olympic games is like a dream come true. They repay us for all the hard work and sacrifices we have been doing for the last four years.”
Todd sees in the Games a chance for the world’s people to come together in peace. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to come together in the Olympic Spirit. I saw it first hand in Beijing and was in awe. Countries whose governments were at war were competing against one another at the Olympics and congratulating each other for a job well done as though there was no war. Really struck me as something very special.”
Whatever their impressions, motivations and dreams are, every athlete competing in these Games has the opportunity to go down in history and make their friends, family, fans and country proud of them. We wish them all the best in their endeavours.