Editor's Note: Spider diving coach Erika Matheis will pen a blog over the course of her visit to London for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Below is her first entry.
Check your calendar: the Olympics are almost here! As result, the Olympic spirit is ever present in ad campaigns on the internet and on television. Marketers are smart enough to realize that every Olympic athlete has a story to tell. Although each Olympic athlete has his or her own respective story, those representing the United States share one thing: they are American. Millions of viewers are also unified, as they share in the competition and tune in to cheer for their favorite athletes and home country.
Personally, I cannot wait to watch the Opening Ceremonies. To me, it is absolutely amazing that the whole world will put aside their differences to celebrate one another and to celebrate together, in a single stadium. Think of how many different languages and cultures are mixed into one athletic melting pot! Although I don't think anything can beat the Beijing Olympic ceremonies in 2008, I do think that London is up for the challenge. Unfortunately, I will not be in London for the opening ceremonies but as I watch the athletes walk onto the field, I will live vicariously through them, as I think every former athlete probably does in the comfort of their own home.
Regarding other traditions of the Olympics, one of the things I do not understand are the mascots. They are nondescript animal-looking type things. This year the mascots are Wenlock and Mandeville. They each have one eye, no fingers but thumbs, no feet, and frankly, are quite pudgy. What Olympic event would they excel in?
Reading more into the design of Wenlock and Mendeville, there is a lot of symbolism in this year's mascots. The bracelets on Wenlock's arm are in the five colors of the Olympic rings and the three points on Mandeville's head represent the three podiums of the Olympic victors. Historically, beginning at the 1972 games in Munich, Olympic mascots have been symbolic of each year and host country of the games in effort to embody the Olympic spirit. If you are interested in the history of the Olympic mascots here is a quick link. You can decide which Olympics had the best mascot for yourself!
I am partial to Izzy of the 1996 Atlanta games, but that is probably because I was a child and I remember begging my mother to go! And who doesn't love a guy with lightning bolts for eyebrows?
As access to information regarding both the history of games and to the games themselves becomes more and more readily available, the rise of social media has a definite importance at the 2012 Olympics. With everyone tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, memeing... and any other verb that has been made possible via technology, there are new strict rules involving what content is posted online. The International Olympic Committee is cracking down on what "leaks" into social media. The athletes participating in the Games have a four-page document dictating what they can and cannot post online.
You might think that with all these restrictions on social media you wouldn't get the inside scoop from Olympic Village. Fortunately, the IOC has set up plenty of websites where Olympians can tweet, blog and post pictures. This Olympics will be much different for the public as all of this content will be available online connecting boundaries that were untouchable before. Across time zones, datelines, and continents, athletes will be connecting with their fans and families. I suggest that you check on your favorite athletes as the Olympians have been encouraged to join all forms of social media on order to provide you with your own "first-hand" Olympic experience. If you want a general outlook of the Games and social media's interaction, check out this blog as it has many awesome tips and explains various modes of Olympic coverage.
Even with all this talk about new social media, don't you worry; I will continue to post my blogs chronicling my own Olympic experience! My mother and I head over to London just in time for the finals of Women's 3-meter springboard where I will happily cheer on divers that I was lucky enough to be in the water with back in my diving day. I will be the crazy USA fan in the stands dressed proudly in red, white and blue. So be sure to look for me!
I wish the best of luck to all the athletes, as all of their hard work and determination is recognized worldwide! GO USA!