Fri, Jul 13 2012 03:42 PM Posted By: Phillip Brents
While it doesn’t appear at this time there will be any major civic send-off ceremony conducted to honor the sizable contingent of qualifiers from the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center for the upcoming London Olympic Games, the San Diego Padres took the lead by hosting U.S. Olympic Team Day last Saturday at Petco Park.
While not all the CV-OTC’s Olympic qualifiers could attend, representatives from each of the resident sports on site did attend and participate in pre-game ceremonies.
“It’s cool,” said Brady Ellison, the world’s top-ranked male archer. “The Olympics come around every four years and, when that fourth year comes around, we get a lot of attention and a lot of things, like this (the Padres’ U.S. Olympic Team Day), that come about. We appreciate the recognition.”
Ellison competed in the feature pre-game event — a shoot from home plate at targets placed (in the outfield) at the Olympic distance of 70 meters.
Five archers took turns at the two targets. Joining Ellison for the on-field demonstration were Jacob Wukie, Miranda Leek, Khatuna Lorig and Jennifer Nichols.
Wukie was declared the winner after scoring a 10 in the last round.
Besides the archery demonstration, the Padres’ Olympic Team Day pre-game festivities also featured an athlete meet-and-greet at the Park in the Park and an exhibition on the wiffle ball field put on by the U.S. women’s field hockey team.
Team members paired up with children for the exhibition event. Proud parents lined the fence with cell phone cameras recording the event for family photo albums.
The object of the pre-game events was to recognize the hard work and dedication that resident-athletes have put in over the past several years in realizing their Olympic dreams.
The end result was a lot of goodwill and community spirit — and likely much curiosity aroused on the part of young fans among the 34,222 in attendance, perhaps even a few future Olympians among them.
Following the archery shoot, Olympians and Paralympians (who will compete in the same Olympic venues following the London Games) were formally recognized over the stadium’s public address system as they waved to fans while standing along the first and third base lines.
There was more.
Paralympian Lex Gillette drew the honor of singing the National Anthem while women’s javelin thrower Kara Patterson threw out the first pitch.
“It was pretty cool, exciting,” said Patterson, a two-time Olympian.
Paralympian track standout Chris Clemens concurred with Patterson’s comment.
“We’re giving back to the community that we are a part of,” said Clemens, who is ranked No. 1 in the world in the long jump. “It’s an honor to participate in something like this.”
Besides archery, field hockey and track and field, rowing, BMX and wheelchair tennis athletes also were represented.
Nic Long and Alise Post represented the OTC’s BMX contingent.
Post (St. Cloud, Minn.) qualified as the No. 2 racer on the U.S. women’s team while Long, a graduate of El Capitan High School in Lakeside, earned the final spot on the three-man American men’s team.
Both said they are looking forward to competing at the London Games.
“It’s exciting, definitely,” said Long, who finished third in last August’s test event on the London Games course.
“It’ll be my first Olympics so it’ll be fun,” Post added. “I definitely want to bring home a medal.”
U.S. Olympic Team Day
(Chula Vista Olympic Training Center participants)
•Cam Kiosoglous (coach)
Track & field
•Wes Williams (guide runner)
•Roland Slade (guide runner)
•Jerome Avery (guide runner)
Women’s field hockey
• Caroline Nichols
• Katie O’Donnell
• Julia Reinprecht
• Katie Reinprecht
• Keli Smith Puzo
• Paige Selenski
• Amy Swensen
• Shannon Taylor
• Michelle Vittese
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