London Olympics 2012: Students experience the summer games first hand

Conner Addison

When junior Jake Horan visited his home country of England this summer, it was not just to see old friends.

Horan was one of several students who got their first taste of the Olympic experience in London this summer.

Junior Jake Horan (right), with his friend Joe Cochrane (left) from England, at a preliminary men’s soccer match at the 2012 London Olympics.

On and off the event courses, the air of celebration and Olympic spirit enveloped the crowd.

“There was no rest, no point where there was any silence. Everyone was just cheering all the time,” Horan said.

Sophomore Conor Reilly also witnessed a variety of events during his stay in London, including the USA’s triumphant victory over Japan in women’s soccer.

“Women’s soccer was pretty cool, especially watching the gold medal ceremony that the athletes did after the US versus Japan game,” Reilly said.

Horan did not see any finals, but he did see two preliminary matches with England against the UAE and Senegal versus Uruguay.

“For the England versus UAE match I could tell that the entire feel of the Olympics for England kind of ebbs and flows with their soccer team,” Horan said. “Everyone was excited and buzzing, and it was very anticipatory. Once the match started, everyone was just on the edge of their seat for 90 minutes.”

The Olympic games kept Reilly on the edge of his seat as well, as he jumped from watching one sport to another every day, but he felt that the whole affair wasn’t what people would expect.

“I was kind of surprised,” Reilly said. “It’s not as official as it seemed on TV. It’s kind of cheesy and touristy to be honest. It was a once in a lifetime event that I thoroughly enjoyed, but it didn’t have that Olympic pomp and circumstance.”

Despite the aura of tourism surrounding the games, Reilly managed to find enjoyment in watching the soccer finals. He also got the chance to meet some of the Olympians.

Reilly, a member of the Marin Rowing team, met the Canadian rowing team and a few members of the USA team at a press conference in London.

“Those are the people that I look up to,” Reilly said. “So seeing those people who made it to the Olympics made the whole experience a little more special for me.”

Horan also met a few Olympians during his visit, including two Canadian badminton superstars, but he was cheering for a different country.

“I was born in London, so since I didn’t get to see the US I was rooting for England in that match,” Horan said. “When England scored, it was just an eruption of happiness and cheers.”

Although this was not Horan’s first time back in England, it was his first Olympic experience, and he spent a good deal of his twelve day trip watching soccer, badminton, and beach volleyball.

A side from watching the Olympic activities, Horan used his time to take an opportunity to tour the iconic city.

“I explored London and saw the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, and the changing of the guards,” Horan said. “I saw the London Eye and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. You could just see all of London from the Eye. I could see the parade, and I could even see the volleyball matches from the top.”

Horan said that although he has been to a World Series game, the amount of heated competition and national pride made the Olympics a better experience than any other sporting event he has attended.

“I’ve been to a World Series and compared to that the Olympics are just so much cooler,” Horan said.  “You’re seeing the world’s best athletes from all over come to one place, one country to compete while they’re all in their peak physical performance, and they’ve all been training for four years. The intensity level and the vibe is really excited, and it is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.”