Sunday, August 5, 2012

DAY 6: Olympic Take-homes: Memories of a Dream Come True

Well, my visit to London was nothing short of Miraculous and inspiring:
I saw history being made, as I was in the swimming arena and heard the roar and explosion from the crowd,
that will vibrate in my soul forever...

For a moment, I held history in my hand,

and stood on stones built over 900 years ago,

..I felt the anxiety and stress of great warriors preparing for the unknown of the competition of their life...

I held winners, who in the public eye won Big...I hugged Gold medalist and new World record holder in the 100 free from Lithuania, MEILUTYTE Ruta –

I held winners, who on TV and on paper, lost... Or did they?

I hugged those who didn't even know what was happening in the Olympic World--or didnt care, who's only job was to protect the Jewels!

I met new screaming friends and I enjoyed the excitement of being inside the most spectacular swimming venue in the world,

And met old friends that reminded me of what's really most important in all that we do...(my friend Kathryn Massey and her daughter Gracie, a fellow Long Drive Competitor from golf from 2004).

On day one,I joked no trip was complete without being arrested...

And on Day 6, I was detained by London's finest for 3 hours.
Unbeknown to me it is illegal to try to sell your ticket:).

I was publicly searched, my belongings emptied, passport and ticket taken, and had the scare of my life when I was told every other person before me that day doing the same offense was imprisoned overnight and to stand in front of the judge in the AM... My story tracked, my credentials in place, I was released with a very strong reprimand and to never try to sell a ticket again. HOA!
So I went to the 200 IM finals and watched Phelps make history.

That night I met a writer from ...The Patriot Ledger

And was given a front row seat in the press box. I was pulled down by security from the nose bleed section (4 rows from the top, a 7 story high climb to your seats) to 50' off the water. At the top of the venue the view was amazing (those specs in the pool are swimmers:)

I laughingly joked with all who had those seats around me sweating, and huffing because there were no elevators to the top, that the tickets should have come with a workout ...LOL)
I am still living proof miracles do happen :). For those of you who know me, you know I don't even have a parking ticket and I was so close to getting arrested internationally for trying to sell a ticket! :)
FYI, it's a felony so don't sell tickets in London.
Overall, The Olympic venue was gorgeous,

The Olympic Village was an experience of a lifetime...

The security made England seem like a Military state. It was such a showing of power, and an abundance of check points, it was sometimes difficult to navigate from the highly secure village with the athletes to the venue. I wasn't convinced this was the free world I must have walked 7-12 miles a day depending on who needed me when! :)

In the end, I kissed the plane when I got into my seat, thanking God I wasn't in front of a judge missing my flight home to the US.
I thanked God for the new friends I met, and the new experiences and opportunities that came my way.

I believe that Theodore Roosevelt said it best, and I will sign out on his quote as I loosely paraphrase to fit my experience:
"It is not the critic that counts,
Not the one who points out how the strong one stumbled,
Or how the doer of deeds could have done them better...
The credit belongs to the man in the arena,
Whose face is marred with dust, and sweat and blood...
Who at best knows the exhilaration of great victory,
Who at worst knows the depths of loss,
Shall never be caught with those cold and timid souls,
...that know neither victory
...not defeat!"

Love and respect to my boys, who worked their azzzz off, poured their hearts out for the world to see...we love you, and wait holding our breaths as you soar into your new reinvention of your life!

In the end, family and friends are what make life so amazing! Huge thank you to the Solnitsky's for sharing their home with me and making my stay so fabulous!
I am in Boston with my Brother Ray, his wife Amp and her mom Julia awaiting the arrival of my nephew, Sebastian who is to be born any second!

In love and strength,
Lee Brandon,C.S.C.S.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

DAY 5: Beyond Champions: Though no Olympic Finals

For those of you who know me personally, you know my life is the epitome of "Winning comes in many forms."

How many of us can actually say we are in the top 16 in the world at anything( they both made the semi finals)? If I'm honest with you all, the 2' TV show we see, takes years and hours of preparation, dedication and old fashioned work. I have a whole new appreciation for all of that now after being behind the scenes here at the OV ( Olympic Village). Below is the swimming arena. Amazing walk.

Omar Pinzon fought gallantly, but it just wasn't his day. :(. He left it all in the pool, so huge props! Don't we all hate when the answer from the universe is "NO, NOT TODAY!"

Markus Rogan was disqualified for an illegal dolphin kick after the turn from backstroke to breaststroke. The Austrian swimming federation lodged a protest against the decision, which was denied by officials. It would not have mattered anyway, as an overturning of the DQ would have placed Rogan ninth and out of the final.
"I had a feeling (this morning) that this would be my last day as an athlete," Rogan told Austrian news website "I fought in the semifinals for a career extension (to swim in the finals)."
According to the Austrian news, they stated: Rogan is likely ending an illustrious Olympic career that includes two silver medals in the backstrokes in 2004 and a fourth-place finish in the 200 back in 2008. He was expected to be a medal contender in the 200 IM tomorrow after a fifth-place finish at the 2011 world championships. He was an NCAA champion in the backstrokes and 200 IM for Stanford University.
Both Omar Pinzon and Markus Rogan are great champions, gentlemen, and most importantly...great people. It has been an honor to work with them, and call them my friends. I have to thank them for including me in their Olympic vision quests. Their courage and sportsmanship are only surpassed by their generosity. These men are champions in life. Sport has always been about developing character and the person within. Markus and Omar are golden in my book no matter what the race results show. They will forever be Olympians and remain assets to the world as GREAT MEN.
Scenes leaving the venue:
this Brit is wrapped in his jack!

This young girl loved this horse...

This Japanese senior wins my "super fan award"...

Walking out, everyone was dancing, shouting and the ever present bobbies were on their beats!

In love and strength,
Lee Brandon,C.S.C.S. Reporting to you from XXX LONDON OLYMPICS

Location:Stratford, UK