Author Archives: Anthony L. Solis

About Anthony L. Solis

I was born and raised on the Central Coast and have lived here my entire life. In 1999 I started working as a graphic designer at the Santa Cruz Sentinel and in 2004 I started getting back into photography, a hobby I had as a child. Now, in addition to designing the front page of the newspaper and The Guide entertainment section, I'm also a freelance photographer. I've been published in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Gilroy Dispatch, Santa Cruz Magazine, JPEG Magazine, UC Santa Cruz Review and the French sports magazine Fluid.. My next adventure is to cover the London Olympics for the Sentinel with my wife of 4 years, Sentinel sports editor Julie Jag. My only previous brush with the Olympics was as a wannabe 400-meter sprinter in the mid-90s. Turns out that you actually have to somewhat like running and be good at it to be an Olympian.

Highlights of the 2012 Olympics

By JULIE JAG
jjag@santacruzsentinel.com

LONDON – In a whirl of color and sound bites of familiar tunes by British stars, London said goodbye to the Olympics.
Sunday’s closing ceremonies packed in the slightly stale stars and the crowds, filling the 80,000-seat Olympic stadium fuller than a steak-and-ale pie. Yet, that fanfare and the excitement over the torch being passed to Rio de Janeiro in 2016, paled in comparison to the Games themselves.
Perhaps it’s because this is the city’s third go-round with the Olympics, or my first time covering them live, but London seemed to know the script by heart. Here were some of the highlights:

Best Athletes in the Best Venues
The number of dream matchups that play out during a short 17-day span is mind boggling for someone who hasn’t been to an Olympics before. Every day I was here I felt like I saw one epic sporting event and missed three or four more.
I saw Serena Williams, probably at the top of her career, completely dismantle Maria Sharapova in the intimate atmosphere that is Wimbledon. A week later I went to Wembley, the historic soccer stadium, to watch the USA women’s team get its sweet revenge and a gold medal against Japan. In between, I crammed into a press box to glimpse Usain Bolt proving he really is the fastest man alive and snuck into swimming to see Michael Phelps get a step closer to the Olympic medals record. That list doesn’t touch the memorable moments from swimming, diving, equestrian, boxing, wrestling, taekwondo, volleyball, basketball and more that have sadly begun to blur together.

Giddy over Girl Power
Women had more of an influence on these Games than any other. The U.S. sent a higher number of women than men for the first time and they repaid the effort with far more medals than their male counterparts. So did the women of China and Russia. But that’s not what made this Olympics one of girl power. That had more to do their lasting impact.
Gabby Douglas stood out for more than her hair and may have altered the sport of gymnastics as a result. Gold medal beach volleyball players Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor gave a clinic in how far a strong bond, bolstered by some couples therapy, can take a team. And Claressa Shields and Marlen Esparza made a big impact by winning medals in women’s boxing, a new sport this Games, to show women can be tough and feminine and to keep the U.S. from its first-ever boxing shutout.
And that’s just for starters. The maturity, grace and freakishly fast swimming of 17-year-old Missy Franklin and the spunk of the U.S.’s first judo medalist Kayla Harrison made a lasting impression. So did the picture of a Saudi Arabian woman running the 800, marking the first time that country allowed a woman to represent it in the Olympics.

Brits Break Out the Olympic Spirit
It turns out the Olympic Spirit does exist, and not just in the text of the International Olympic Committee’s charter or the words of an official’s speech.
Though there had been some grumbling about the cost of hosting the Games during an economic downturn, the British turned out in droves to support “Team GB.” When local sweetheart Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon, they created more noise than a fleet of jumbo jets. But they didn’t limit their applause to the home team, [which is good since last-minute tickets weren’t available to foreign fans], giving rousing support to any valiant effort.
Nor did the British limit their goodwill to the stadiums, which seemed to take even them by surprise. In one press conference, a British reporter asked a panel of IOC and London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games [LOCOG] about the troubling trend of people actually talking to each other on the Tube, as the underground railway is called.
“I would like to unreservedly apologize to you for the outburst of excitement and commeraderie on the Tube,” Sebastian Coe, the LOCOG chair, responded in typically wry humor. He added, s“I think it’s fantastic.”
The pleasantries may not last long. One local reporter suggested they might be over before Sunday night’s dousing of the flame since two popular soccer teams with little love for each other, Manchester City and Chelsea, began their preseason Sunday afternoon.
Still, one can hope that the effects, like the careers of the many aging stars brought out for the closing ceremonies, will linger.

Categories: Athletes, Events, Kerri Walsh, Olympics | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Olympic photos: Day 17, final assignment

The day is here. Tonight is the Closing Ceremonies of the XXX Olympiad here in London and a few short hours after the torch is extinguished, Julie and I will be on a plane bound for home. And you know what? It’s time.

I’ve really enjoyed my month Across the Pond, shooting photos wherever I go and meeting very good people from all over the world. There was the nice man from Cameroon who played the sax on the train for Julie and I; the lawyer couple from Yorkshire who didn’t understand the American political process and shared my distaste of the Spice Girls; the Spanish man who loved everything about American culture and especially the sports (he’s a 49ers fan and watches the NBA finals live from Spain); and who could forget Charles, the Londoner who held and umbrella over my camera so I could photograph the women’s marathon in the pouring rain.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was homesick and it didn’t hit me until that moment but I really am. It will be nice to get a full night’s sleep and not have to sleep on an air mattress on the floor of a closet-sized dorm room. While I think the Tube is the greatest feat of public transportation in the world, it will be nice not to have to travel a minimum of 45 minutes each direction just to get to the action. That being said, I can’t wait to come back and see the UK properly, without the distraction of The Games. Though I will still have my camera in tow.

On this final day of competition, the men’s marathon wound its way through the maze that is the streets of London. Team USA’s Mebrahtom Keflezighi finished fourth after leading early. And with that, I’m off.

Categories: Athletes, Events, Olympics, Photos, Track & Field Events | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Olympics photos: Day 16, women’s race walking

Race walking just doesn’t seem funny anymore, it seems hard. And this race was a great one, at least at the end. Olga Kaniskina from Russia lead the 20 kilometer race the entire way and was on a World Record pace when, with 1 kilometer left to go, her fellow Russian, Elena Lashmanova, stormed past her and took the gold medal AND the World Record.

Team USA’s Maria Michta didn’t do well compared to the rest of the field, but she did run a personal best time and did it with a smile on her face whenever she was near her friends and family in the crowd, which also happened to be near me, so I got a lot of photos of her smiling.

Like always, I had to get to my spot about 2 hours early to get a good spot. Met a nice couple from Yorkshire though and talked about our different culture and politics. Pretty funny to hear a Brit’s take on American politics. And yes, they told me I’d have to deal with The Wave being called the Mexican Wave since that’s what the entire world (except the US) knows it as.

Categories: Athletes, Events, Olympics, Photos, Track & Field Events | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Olympics photos: Day 15, time for the men

Categories: Events, Olympics, Photos, Swimming | Leave a comment

Artsy black and white photos of Tower Bridge

I was really scouting the bridge out for angles to take after dark but I forgot my cable release at the room, so I cut my evening short. Still, this is the style of photography I’m drawn to when I’m not shooting sports or portraits. You may see some photos very similar to these tomorrow evening, unless I forget something else.

Categories: Olympics, Photos | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

Olympic photos: Day 14, marathon swimming

The weather was fantastic today in London and reminded me of the nice weather we get back home in California. This nice weather was very much needed because it had been cold and rainy the past few days and I was under the weather yesterday, which is why there was no photo update from me. I’m all better now and it was great to get out of that little dorm room.

As much as I enjoyed this morning’s marathon swimming, I really enjoyed talking to some locals about the differences in culture between the US and Great Britain. We agreed that most Americans can’t do a good English accent and most Brits sound dumb and just talk slow when trying to do an American accent. I found it funny that they asked me if I understand sarcasm; I guess they didn’t think Americans knew anything about sarcasm. Um, yes, I know all about sarcasm. I’ve mastered it, just ask my mother (which is who I learned it from). One really odd occurrence happened. People in the crowd started doing the wave and these locals called it the Mexican wave. Huh? I didn’t get it and just kept shaking my head. Don’t they know the wave was started at a 1981 A’s game in Oakland by Krazy George, not in Mexico. The joys of different cultures.

Categories: Events, Olympics, Photos, Swimming | Leave a comment

Olympic photos: Day 12, Bevan Docherty and the Men’s Triathlon

Got up extra early this morning so I could wait at a good spot for the men’s triathlon. I had scoped out an area while I was at the women’s triathlon where you could see the swim, bike, and run from roughly the same spot. It was a valiant effort to get there, but alas, I didn’t make it in time. Granted, I was still 2 1/2 hours early, but all the spots around the swim and running area were gone, so I camped out by a nice Spanish couple along the cycling route. It was tough to find Santa Cruz’s Bevan Docherty at first since I was clicking away with the camera for the first lap. I finally spotted him on lap 3 and tried to focus on just him. I’ll tell you though, those guys move fast. When the cycling was finished I ran over to where I thought I might get to see some running, but security had blocked access to the area because there were already too many people there. I tried to walk in one way with a few other people but we were quickly pushed back. That’s when I used my impressive movie knowledge to my advantage.

Have you seen “The Paper” with Michael Keaton? Great little film for anyone interested in newspapers and journalism. In the film, he said, “A clipboard and a confident wave can get you into any building in the world.” Well I didn’t have a clipboard, but I did have a media pass (NOTE: This is not a credential to get me access to anyplace special, it just has my name and says MEDIA because I am with Julie in a secure location for our stay). So I went near a different security person and flashed my worthless media pass and confidently waved as I walked by. He had a confused look on his face, then just waved as he held other people back. It’s not like I really went anywhere I wasn’t supposed to, it was a free area, just a crowded free area.

Armed with a new confidence I tried to squeeze myself into a location where I could see some runners go by but these weren’t security people I was trying to get in front of, these were people who had been waiting longer than the 2 1/2 hours I had been waiting. They weren’t moving for the Pope, let alone a photographer. I was able to stand on my tiptoes to see between two people’s heads to get a few shots, which I don’t recommend unless you have very strong calves … I don’t.

Docherty didn’t win, but it was great to see Great Britain get so pumped for the Gold and Bronze winning Brownlee brothers. And the Spaniard Javier Gomez got Silver, so I know my new Spanish friends are excited.

Categories: Athletes, Bevan Docherty, Olympics, Photos, Triathlon | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Olympics photos: Day 11, a light day

Monday was a light day for me, meaning there were no free events I could shoot, so I again put on my walking shoes and wandered. This time though, I wanted to see an area that the British press had been saying was a ghost town during the Games. So I went to Oxford Circus to see just how few people there were. The story goes that people weren’t shopping at some major shopping areas because there are no Olympic venues nearby to bring the tourists in. A pub owner I talked to said that, yes, his business was a bit slow at the start of the Games but is back to normal now. He said it wasn’t as bad for him as the press made it out to be (that darn press).

Also made it over to Greenwich mainly so I could travel there with Julie since we don’t really see each other that often. Plus, it’s supposed to be pretty and have great little shops. All true. Greenwich Park even had a little festival going on complete with lawn chairs and a large screen to watch the equestrian events going on a few hundred feet away. Plus, there were two table tennis tables there for anyone to use. These tables are everywhere all over the city and people use them quite a bit.

So, here are a few of today’s photos. I know there aren’t that many today, but I did say it was a light day. Tomorrow I will return to the sports photography genre with the men’s triathlon. I plan to get there very early to get a good spot … hopefully one where I can shoot the swim, bike and run without having to move away from my prime location.

Categories: Olympics, Photos | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Olympic photos: Day 10, women’s marathon, the kindness of strangers and a soaking Tony

I should know better, I just should. BBC weather said it will be sunny and in the 70s on Sunday, but they lied. OK, so they didn’t lie, but their educated guess was off. By a lot.

I went to central London to shoot the women’s marathon and wanted to make sure I got there very early so I’d get a spot. Turns out, I didn’t have to worry so much because there weren’t that many spectators around until just before the race started and I was about 30 minutes from the start. But just as the starting bell went off, the sky opened up and dumped massive amounts of rain on all of us there waiting to watch the runners. I backed away from the barricades and stood under a ledge until more people started showing up and I had to regain my spot. It was still pouring.

At this point I put away my camera in my bag, which has a waterproof covering, until just before the women were due to arrive. I happened to be standing next to a nice British family that, like all Brits I’ve met, was extremely nice and eager to strike up a conversation with a Yank (though I think of Yanks as East Coasters). Charles, Caroline and Ruby kept me company as I got more and more soaked since I had no umbrella and no poncho. Every time I’ve seen a poncho for sale it’s been sunny, so I didn’t think to buy one. Stupid me. Charles was very helpful in keeping my spirits up and even snapped a photo of me …

Here I am, waiting in the rain for the women’s marathon. Aren’t the Olympics glorious? You can see me using my body to keep as much rain off my camera bag as possible.

That’s when a wonderful thing happened. Another Brit offered me his umbrella since he and his wife could share one. It was a wonderful gesture, but one I was about to decline when Charles took the umbrella and held it over me himself so I could use both hands to shoot photos. “You’re supporting the American press,” he told the stranger. “Well in that case …,” said the stranger as he playfully tried to take the umbrella back. So the first of three lap of the marathon were shot with Charles holding the umbrella over my lens in the pouring rain. I really love London. Surprises around every corner.

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Categories: Behind the Scenes, Events, Olympics, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Olympic photos: Day 9, part 2 … RACE WALKING!

I know what you are thinking, “Tony, dude … race walking? Seriously?” I know, I know, but after watching my first live race walking event, I have to say, this looks tough. These guys are WALKING close to a 6-minute mile. That’s hardcore. The agony these men were in by the end of the race made ME out of breath. I won’t make fun of race walking any more. Really.

Categories: Athletes, Events, Olympics, Photos | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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