July 30, 2012
UCF track and field head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert has trained two of this year's participants in the Olympic Games: Three-time US Olympian DeeDee Trotter and current Knight/Antiguan Olympian Afia Charles. The pair compete in the 400 meters on Aug. 3 in the first round of competition. Smith Gilbert traveled to London and what follows is her account of the sites and sounds she has experienced so far at the Olympic Village, the practice facilities and around town.
By Caryl Smith Gilbert
Saturday, July 28, 2012
After two days of airline delays, cancellations and lost bags I have finally arrived in London. I am sad that I missed the opening ceremonies last night due to airline problems but I am grateful I made it safely. I am on the underground train from Heathrow International Airport to my hotel in Westminster. I love how simple it is to travel in Europe. I bought an Oyster card at the airport and got right on the Picadilly line to South Kensington. I then transferred to the Circle line to get to Westminster. I have already noticed several different cultures and nationalities in London. I had to travel by train to the University of East London (UEL) to pick up my credential from the USOC for the U.S. practice track. I took the green line to Canary Wharf and transferred to the DLR overground tram. I guess you could say UEL is where Team USA and the USOC administration is headquartered during the Games. Team USA men's and women's basketball practices at UEL and it's kinda cool getting to run into Carmelo Anthony or LeBron James going into the cafeteria now and again.
After walking in a maze around the UEL due to extremely tight security and finally obtaining my credential, I am heading back to my hotel in Westminster. At this point I'm in a literally daze from the jet lag and I can finally get a long night's rest. Lights out!
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Today was a good day! I was very tired so I slept a LONG time in my hotel room. DeeDee took me out to dinner at Nando's. They have the best grilled chicken wings ever! You get to pick your sauce and the sweet potato mash tastes really good, too. Nando's is sort of like a semi-fast food version of Buffalo Wild Wings. They tell me you can easily find a location in every neighborhood in London. Tomorrow we have an early practice so I'm off to bed early. Toodles!!
Monday, July 30, 2012
Today I was up early at 7:30 a.m. because I went to the Team USA practice track at Mile End Stadium to practice with DeeDee. Afia has not been successful in securing me a credential to the warm-up track at Olympic Park due to the IOC's last minute decision to allow her to compete. So unfortunately, I have not been able to attend her practices. We have been corresponding consistently by email, text and cell. The IOC has been particularly strict during these Games when it comes to matters of security and accreditation in order to minimize terrorism so most of the paperwork for accreditation for the Games had to be completed at least 3-4 months ago.
Mile End Stadium, where Team USA's training camp is being held, is about a 40-min train ride east of my hotel. Today the weather is about 65 and sunny. If this kind of weather holds up the track and field portion of the Games should be spectacular. However, the forecast calls for rain tomorrow and maybe Wednesday as well. My husband Greg arrived from the States today so DeeDee secured a day pass for me and Greg to get into the Olympic Village. We took the the District line (green) train to the Monument stop and transferred to the red line (Central) and got off at the Stratford stop. Olympic Village and Olympic Park are simply AWESOME!! Besides the fact that there is full service MALL right smack dab in the middle of Olympic Park, the village is definitely a full service place for the athletes. In the Village, athletes have complimentary access to a post office, laundry service, a hair and nail salon, a florist, photographer, a cell phone store and an internet cafe. What was even better was the fact that there is an athlete game room with a full karaoke stage and mic, a movie theater, video game center, pool tables and BEATS by Dre recording studio. DeeDee says she can't wait to get in the studio lay down her latest hit! Lol. We ate lunch in the village cafeteria and it was delicious. They have food prepared for every nationality plus a McDonald's to top it off. Tomorrow Afia and Deedee have their last special endurance workout before they compete on Friday. We took several pictures to send and I hope they illustrate all we are experiencing here in London.
The photo gallery can be found at the top of of the page.