Monthly Archives: June 2012

Olympic trivia: I don’t think this would fly today (maybe in Santa Cruz)

The word “gymnasium” comes from the Greek root “gymnos” meaning nude; the literal meaning of “gymnasium” is “school for naked exercise.” Athletes in the ancient Olympic Games would participate in the nude.

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Soquel’s Maggie Vessey discusses her Olympic Trials performance

It didn’t matter that Soquel High alumna Maggie Vessey entered the 2012 Olympic team trials 800-meter run final on Monday as a top prospect for one of three Olympic team spots. She couldn’t find her signature kick and finished a heartbreaking eighth in 2 minutes, 3.44 seconds. Here, she talks about it in a post-race press conference.

Watch more video of Maggie Vessey on

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Locals in Olympic Trials update

There is so much exciting stuff going on right now pertaining to the Olympics. I have been loving seeing the gymnastics, swim and track and field trials on TV, though I wish there was more of all of them. I wanted to see Stephanie LeFever jump today, but NBC didn’t show any of the long jump prelims.

In part because of that, I wanted to bring you an update on how our locals fared today. You can, of course, get complete coverage in Saturday’s Santa Cruz Sentinel.

No, he’s not local, but it’s a cool photo of Friday’s action.
David Oliver prepares to start in the men’s 110 meter hurdles qualifying round at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials Friday, June 29, 2012, in Eugene, Ore. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) Oliver won his heat.

Andrew Porter had never been in the same heat as Michael Phelps before, and it’s likely something he won’t soon forget.
The Monte Vista Christian School alum can still hear the “slap, slap, slap” of Phelps’ signature arm swing prior to Friday’s 200-meter individual medley event at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in Omaha, Neb.
“It was cool to hear that as the final thing before we dove in,” Porter said. “It reminded you of where you are.”
Not that Porter would forget. He recorded a time of 2 minutes, 3.67 seconds to finish 25th overall out of 116 competitors in the 200 IM, falling short of advancing to the semifinals by roughly six-tenths of a second. Afterward, the 18-year-old swimmer mentioned the stress of the big stage coinciding with his less-than-ideal time.

One athlete who shined on that stage and wasn’t supposed to, however, was Bellarmine Prep graduate Scott Weltz. Weltz won the 200-meter breaststroke over favorites Brendan Hansen and Eric Shanteau.

Aptos High alumna Stephanie LeFever earned a mark on all three of her jumps at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Ore. Unfortunately for LeFever, even the longest of them wasn’t enough to move her into Sunday’s final.
LeFever’s longest attempt of 19 feet, 10 ¼ inches placed her last of the 23 competitors who took to the runway Friday. She hit that leap in her second attempt, but also jumped 19-0 and 19-6 ¼.
“I’ve been jumping in the 20s and I wanted to get higher,” LeFever said. “But this was one of the not-so-good days.”
Janay DeLoach of Fort Collins, Colo., hit 23-5½ on her one and only jump to lead the list of 12 qualifiers for the final. Vashti Thomas, a graduate of Mount Pleasant High in San Jose, positioned herself in second with her lone marked jump of 22-10 ½. Each of the top five jumpers turned in just one scoring mark.

Also, Nikki Hiltz, an incoming Aptos senior, placed fifth in the Girls 1-mile exhibition race. Hiltz ran a time of 4 minutes, 57.35 seconds. That was considerably slower than the time of 4:43.24 she ran to win the California 1,600-meter championship at the state finals in June.
Hannah Meier, a junior at Michigan’s Grosse Pointe South High, won the race in 4:55.63. Her twin sister, Haley Meier, finished just ahead of Hiltz in fourth [4:56.65].

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Win a photo from the Olympics and other SWAG

The Web editor came up to me yesterday to remind me to bring back lots of SWAG so we can give it away as contest prizes. After my initial horror at giving anything away I may want for myself I put my thinking cap on. Julie and I decided that as we get stuff, we’ll post a contest. We’re not sure what those little micro contests will be yet, but I have an idea for a main contest. The best comment on this blog, as decided by Julie and myself, will receive a signed photo, taken by me, of the Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremonies. The contest starts now and ends Aug. 15.

The rules:

  • You have to comment on this blog, not Facebook. We can’t keep track of everyone from Facebook, Twitter, Redit, Google+, etc., so just comment here.
  • Use a real email address so we can really contact you when you really win.
  • You can give us a suggestion, tell us a story, critique my spelling, offer a joke, add insight to a post. There are no restrictions, but you should know that if you are too mean we probably won’t pick you.
  • You can’t be related to Julie or me or work at the Santa Cruz Sentinel. It just wouldn’t be fair. Besides, you guys all know us, so you can easily get a signed photo from us.

This will not be the only contest. We may pick up a T-Shirt and decide to give it to the first person who comments, or answers a trivia question correctly. The point is, you never know, so you need to keep checking back with this blog.

Now, if you are sitting back thinking to yourself, “this sounds like a ploy to get more people to read your blog,” then you can consider yourself among the enlightened. Cynical, but enlightened.

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Another Santa Cruz County Olympic candidate

We have another Santa Cruz County athlete competing in the Track and Field Trials this week. Aptos and UC San Diego graduate Stephanie LeFever today will take a run at reaching Sunday’s long jump final. She says if she can repeat or come close to her personal record of 21 feet, 3 inches, she should make it. Let’s hope so!

Here’s the story that will appear in Sports in Friday’s Sentinel:

By Julie Jag
As Aptos High graduate Stephanie LeFever steps on the runway today to compete in the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials, the question has to be asked:
What would have happened if she had found the long jump earlier?
“I actually didn’t try it until my senior year of high school. It wasn’t my specialty event,” said LeFever, who held five school records when she graduated in 2007, including ones in the hurdles and pole vault. “After I tried it, I really wanted to keep long jumping.”
LeFever got her wish, in a way. Following older sister Donna to the University of San Diego, she became a heptathlete, mixing long jump in with the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200 dash, 800 run and javelin.
Tritons head coach Darcy Ahner admits she didn’t know LeFever had such little long jump experience. It certainly didn’t show in competition, she said.
“It was pretty evident her first year that that was her best and favorite event,” Ahner said. “All the other events she liked, but long jump is where she felt most comfortable. On the long jump runway, that’s where she looks most confident.”
She finished second in heptathlon at the NCAA Division II championships her senior year at UCSD with 5,385 points, but really shined in the long jump. She took second in the individual event and set the program record with a leap of 20 feet, 3.5 inches.
LeFever decided she didn’t want to stop with that record jump. So, she spoke to Ahner about training for one year after graduation in long jump alone.
“I thought I had more there, so I wanted to see how far I could go,” said LeFever, who trains with a group of three other graduates and the Tritons current team.
Already, it’s farther than she dared imagine. In a meet in Chula Vista on June 14, the last meet in which she could qualify for the Olympic Trials, LeFever jumped 21-3 — an entire foot farther than her collegiate PR.
That mark got her into the trials as No. 18 of 24 qualifying long jumpers, and she said she thinks it’s good enough to take her to Sunday’s final if she can do it again.
“I think I will definitely go to the final if I jump that,” said LeFever, who needs to finish in the top 12 to advance. “I have been looking at other marks and people haven’t been doing their best.”
This year, LeFever is only looking to do her best. With Brittany Reese, a fifth-place finisher in Beijing 2008, jumping 23-8 and several others going over 22-0, a top-three finish and Olympic berth is a far reach this year. But, LeFever has already decided she’ll keep training next year and could set her sights on 2016.
“That’s definitely something that would be really cool if I could do it,” she said.

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Giant Olympic Rings unveiled on Tower Bridge


The latest set of Giant Olympic Rings has been unveiled on London’s Tower Bridge to mark exactly one month to go until the Olympic Games.
The Rings weigh more than three tons and measure over 25 meters wide by 11.5 metres tall.
During the Games, each of London‘s famous bridges will be lit up in the evenings in a dazzling display of color.

Categories: Olympics | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Camera woes

Last night, I’ll admit it, I had camera envy. While shooting the USA Trampoline Championships in San Jose I was standing next to the Associated Press photographer and noticed something … his camera’s frames per second was on par with an Uzi. Mine is more like a semi-automatic. Now, usually I love my camera — a Canon 20D I bought for myself as a 30th birthday present — but for indoor sports with bad lighting, it leaves something to be desired.

I shot the trials last night at ISO 1600, which is like film speed back in the days of film. The higher the ISO, the faster shutter speed you can use but more noise is introduced. Newer cameras can shoot ISO 6400 with little loss of quality.

What does this mean for my Olympics coverage? Not much really. I don’t have a press pass, so I won’t be in any venues shooting sports. And even if I do get lucky enough to get in, I bet the lighting will be pretty good. My photos will be scene setters, portraits (I hope) and maybe a triathlon photo or two. I’ll follow Americans as they try to watch the Games throughout London and may even just hang out on the Thames for a day shooting whatever I see.

So, long story short, I won’t be buying a fancy new camera to take with me to London. I don’t need one and can’t afford one. I’ll just make do with what I have. They say it’s the photographer, not the camera that makes good photos.

But I’d take a nice, new, fancy camera if it were free.

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More Trampoline photos

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Trampoline Trials

Anthony L. Solis/Sentinel
Steven Gluckstein wins the 2012 Trampoline USA Championships and a spot on the USA Olympic Team Wednesday at the San Jose Convention Center.

Steven Gluckstein will be representing Team USA in the trampoline at the 2012 London Games. His is a great story that Julie wrote about a little earlier and I’ll let her write more. But the event was cool to cover. Very low key, which was a good training for me.
One thing I discovered very quick was how not very quick my camera is. They say it’s not the equipment, it’s the photographer, but having equipment that isn’t SUPER SLOW sure helps things. I’ll just have to be better at timing my shots. I’ll write more about this in a future post / excuse to buy a new camera with all that money I don’t have.

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My first Olympics assignment

I’ll be shooting the gymnastics trials tonight in San Jose. Look for some trampoline photos from me in tomorrow’s Sentinel as well as right here in this blog. Wish me luck.

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