Posted by: kmgib | December 3, 2008

Intern at the Olympics

I was lucky enough to be one of the 19 people chosen from Syracuse University to intern with NBC Olympics in Beijing, China. Syracuse is one of six schools that NBC Olympics recruits from. There were a total of 103 interns from more than 30 universities and 1,600 applications. Needless to say, it was the experience and the chance of a lifetime. Here’s a little taste of some of the things I did.

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Our second day of work was only a half day, so we went to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square that day. If I had to chose one word to describe them, it would be: enormous! Everything in China is just so huge and ornate architecture.

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Here’s our broadcast compound:

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At the intern dinner before the games began, I met Rowdy Gaines, Lester Holt, Bela Kyroli (sp?) and many other athletes and broadcasters.

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Friday 8/8/08: Opening Ceremonies
We worked from early morning until about 3:30. We took the last bus from the media village to the Olympic Green because they stop the busses before opening ceremonies. We decided that we would get food in the Bird’s Nest (The Athletics stadium and where opening ceremonies were) but the only food they had were muffins, chips, strange noodles and other non-filling crap. haha. We didn’t eat dinner and were starving the whole time. But onto the ceremonies….
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Opening Ceremonies were absolutely amazing! We sat in the third row! It was so close that I could almost touch the performers. We got there about an hour and a half early and they had pre-opening ceremonies shows- there were many dancers in colorful costumes.
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Then opening ceremonies began at exactly 8pm with thousands of drummers drumming in unison. Then the drums lit up when they hit them, and then they used light up drumsticks and then they did 10…9…8…7..6…5…4…3…2…1 with a bunch of light up drums to do the count dowm to opening ceremonies.
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The highlights of the opening ceremonies were the light up costumes, especially the flying ones and the people who climbed on top of each other to build the Bird’s Nest.
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Then a world rose out of the floor and people were climbing on it sideways.
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The torch lighting was absolutely incredible. Li-Ning, the lengendary Chinese gymnast who has his own clothing line that all the Chinese gymnasts wear, lit the torch by “flying” around the the top rim of the stadium to light the torch.
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Opening Ceremonies were the most amazing experience of my life. It was so incredible to be there on the floor basically. The Bird’s Nest is really cool and huge inside. We were dying of heat the whole time though. Sweat was literally just pouring off everyone BUT it was absolutely amazing.
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Saturday 8/9/09: Day 1
Let the Games begin. Gymnastics, Swimming, Beach Volleyball and a host of other events began today. The U.S. women swept the fencing. It was great.
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I worked the 3pm to 3am shift, so I went sightseeing with my friend in the morning. We went to the Lama Temple, which is beautiful.
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There is an 85-foot tall Buddah in there that is made from one piece of sandalwood. The wood is over 2,500 years old. The artifacts in there are amazing. And it is a working temple,  so there are just as many tourists as people praying. They use incense during their prayers. It was great.
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Then as we are walking out of the Lama Temple,  we ran into an Olympic Cycling event, which was awesome.
Sunday 8/10/08
3pm to 3am shift again, but no sightseeing today because I was so exhausted that I slept until 1pm.
I haven’t seen any of Michael Phelps races yet because I have been asleep. I did watch the women’s and men’s qualifying rounds for gymnastics.
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Monday 8/11/08
We got out of work by 2, so we went to the summer palace today, which is huge. There is a gigantic lake surrounded by various buildings and bridges. We saw the marble boat and long corridor among other things.
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Tuesday 8/12/08
Worked. I watched the men’s gymnastics team finals from the control room, which was really neat. I learned a lot about the various positions and what people do. It was really exciting and stressful. I don’t know how anyone can concentrate and do their jobs becase at least 3 people are always talking at one time and as many as 6. It was insane. It was so exciting for the men to win the bronze medal because they weren’t expected to.
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Kevin Tan and Raj really messed up on the pommel horse, but Alexander Artemev had a solid routine. It was so exciting. We were off work earlier and went to dinner near Ho Hai. It was very good, but I felt sick the next day.
Wednesday 8/13/08
I met Ann Curry and Meredith Viera from the Today show today. I drove them in the golf cart. Ann is  absolutely gorgeous.. And I found out that I am friends with Meredith’s son, which is random.
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The women’s team final was exciting also but stressful. Alicia Sacramone fell getting onto the beam and then again in one of her floor tumbling passes. I don’t think it would have made a difference between silver and gold because the chinese are so incredible. I would have liked the American’s to win But we have the individual all-around coming up tomorrow and the next day.
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We went out to dinner, and they brought our live fish out in a bag still swimming around before they killed it and cooked it to serve to us.
Anyway, most restaurants and bars do not have Western toilets- They use what I like to call “squatters”  Use your imagination. It was not as horrific of an experience as I thought.
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Thursday 8/14/08
I was able to get a ticket to swimming today. I saw Michael Phelps swim in the semifinal of the 200 IM. There was another US guy in the next heat, who actually had a faster time than Phelps, who I’m sure is trying to save his energy.
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I also saw the U.S. Women’s 4X100 relay take the bronze. The Austrailians won and set a world record. I was really cool to see the women win. I took a ton of pictures too.
I saw Nastia win the women’s individual all around and Shawn Johnson take second.
The next week, we charted a bus to go to the Great Wall, which was incredible. It stretches for miles and miles in either direction. The entire thing is 4,000 miles long. It is so breathtaking.
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I also got to meet a ton of gymnasts, which was fantastic. This was an incredible experience that I will never forget.
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