Day – It’s the Final Countdown!


USA Basketball – story by Mark Purdy – pix by me

Close Ceremonies – story by Elliott Almond – pix by me

“It’s just like saying goodbye at summer camp” Smiley was saying to us as I said goodbye to him at the photo work room for the last time in the bowels of the Olympic Stadium.  I did summer camp when I was little – at first you think everyone is weird – but then you get to meet them and you have an instant connection because you are from the States and then you really bond – and then just when you finally feel comfortable – it’s time to go!  Here is John, center, saying goodbye to Smiley, far left, shortly after I did… (that’s Vernon from the Dallas Morning News, center, Dave Eulitt from the KC Star, right, and the lady in the center is from the Washington Post, but I’m spacing her name right now):

Today was it!  Finally – the last day!  since the Men’s water polo and volleyball teams fizzled out – that left Men’s basketball as the big story for us.  In Beijing both teams were in the gold medal match – that’s when Michael Goulding, Robert Gauthier and I ran from volleyball to water polo to closing!  Today was a bit less strenuous.  A few people went to the marathon in the morning – but I knew closing was at 9 – so it wasn’t worth it for me.

Basketball is at North Greenwich arena now – so took the DLR to Canning Town to the Jubilee tube – one stop to the arena.  Planned it so I arrived at noon – the bronze match started at 11 – so figured i’d miss the crowds.  Was supposed to grab food with Paul and John but John bailed.  So Paul and I decided to eat at the arena – which is normally known as The O2 – which I think is a cellular carrier here.  But there are a bunch of restaurants.  We asked Bruce Chambers to join us, he’s from the Orange County Register – he’s a cool guy who has covered a few Olympics – but wasn’t supposed to cover this one.  Michael Goulding was – but Goulding had some sort of heart health problem and pulled out at the last minute.  Bruce was telling us some cool stories from the ’84 Olympics while eating some decent Japanese food.  Here was the view:

We got down to the court two hours before the game – right after the bronze medal game ended.  We all kinda congregated close to each other – but I saw Wally and I found a spot close behind him and since he usually covers the Lakers (and their many championship runs) then I figured I must be doing okay.  Hanging out, from left to right, Wally, Bruce, Paul and Smiley.

 Normally when we cover basketball games we switch at half time – but it was so busy we just stayed – so everyone figured out that we’d get the USA offense towards us in the second half – plus we all had a good view of the bench.  So at half time we just hung out – went by quickly.  It ended up being a sorta close game.  Our stuff holds our spot before the game – don’t worry someone was always put in charge of watching it if one of us left:

The nice thing about working at a paper is that I get a variety of different sports to cover – whatever our local athletes are doing well in leads our way – or if something is a huge story.  This was my third basketball game (the first two I went on my own and just for the first half of a Men’s game and a first half of a Women’s game).  If you work for the wires you typically have to cover one event for the whole Olympics.  This was Larry Smith’s 72nd basketball game, he works for EPA (European Pressphoto Agency)!!!  And the NBA season starts up in a few months!  Here is the view from my spot – second row on a bench:

The game was pretty good – was kinda close until the fourth quarter.  Post game was a little dicy with a gillion people running around.  After it calmed down here is, from left to right, John, Paul and John Biever (SI) shooting the awards ceremony.

After the game I bolted – I left Paul behind (oops sorry) – I ran out and grabbed the bus – I was the second to last one on, John was already on it – we waved to Smiley and Vernon as we pulled away.  I was sweating bullets cause I was running with all my gear and it was hot and they don’t believe in AC in London for some reason – I guess it’s normally always cool.  I downloaded some disks on the 20 minute ride to the MPC – once we hit the MPC John and I lugged our bags up the stairs – went through security and booked it to the internal Olympic Park bus to the stadium… that one took off only a few minutes after getting there.  Paul, Smiley and Vernon showed up about 20 minute after we got there.  They ended up taking the subway in.

We did a bit of scanning and headed to our spot at 7 (closing started at 9).  Paul and John made it into a packed elevator but I had to take the stairs.  By the time I got up and figured out where I was supposed to be, in photo position ‘C’ Paul had somehow walked to the other side of the stadium.  He eventually made it back.. dropped off his stuff and was nice enough to go and grab us some dinner – got me a meatball sandwich and some pringles.  We ate and edited images…

Pre-closing stuff started around 8:30… Closing was kind a bummer – well it always is kinda anticlimactic – but everything was dark – I mean literally dark – darkly lit – which doesn’t make for good pictures.  I sat next to a really cool lady from London who works in London now but used to work in India too.  She used some local British slang – and was embarrassed by some of the performers representing England – it was funny.  A couple in front of me was from the Bay Area – they wanted me to take their picture for the paper.  I said I’d think about it.  Amazingly, and thankfully, the photo position was not even close to being full.  It was a pretty bad spot – midway up and nearly right behind the Olympic Flame.

Closing lasted over three hours!!!  It was quite painful.  But it did actually go by quickly – it was more like a rock concert than anything – George Michael, Fat Boy Slim, Spice Girls and a bunch of other people.  After it was all over we stayed in our seat and edited for a bit until the crowd cleared out.  Here are the LA Times’ Wally and Robert finishing up:

John packing up his ThinkTank Photo rolling bag:

Right in the middle of editing an announcement came over the speaker that something dangerous happened and everyone needed to leave the building.  We were all like “whatever” but then the photo workroom people said we all had to leave.  So we all started packing up and we were joking that they couldn’t make our final assignment easy – they had to do something to make it difficult.  Then right as we were about to leave another announcement said “disregard the previous message.”  ha.  Paul still editing:

I had to leave at 1:30 – because I had to make sure I made the 2 am DLR train cause it stops running round 2-2:30 and I couldn’t remember which – and didn’t want to find out.  So John and I said our goodbyes to a bunch Yanks still working and headed out to the busses.  Well someone must have complained about how bad it was the other night (when we waited over an hour for a bus to show up) because there were actually THREE busses lined up!  Yea good job!  John had someone take our picture in front of our last bus ride together:):

I’ll be doing one last post tomorrow probably – just a wrap up – thanks for reading if you don’t read the last one!


Day One-Five


Track and Field – could not fine story gallery only

Today was very chill – since the stuff we wanted to cover was basically all at the same time – I only could do one thing… Women’s volleyball at 6:30, Track at 7:00, Women’s Basketball at 9.  Smiley went from Men’s soccer to track to basketball… but left track early to make bball.  Oh and I should add – nothing nearby – Women’s vball about an hour away, basketball was moved from basketball venue to North Greenwich – about 20-30 minutes away.  What I don’t understand is – why didn’t they move volleyball to the basketball arena when basketball moved to North Greenwich?  That would have made sense.

Well his will mostly be a visual blog because not a lot happened today.  Went to the MPC in the afternoon and ran into Paul and John and Brian.  We were gonna go to lunch but John had to hit a press conference so we had to wait!  We tried to talk Brian into joining us but he was heading to basketball super early… so I’ll show you around parts of where we work… here is the outside of the MPC – on the left is the IBC (broadcast centre) – right is the media centre:


here is the photo work area – which I almost never used cause it’s so far out of the way:

here is Brian working:

The elevator system is super weird – so there is this keypad – that looks like a giant phone keypad – and you type in the floor you want – but there are only four four floors – 0, 1, 2, 3 (maybe there is a -1?).  Anyway – but the key bad still has 4-9… anyway – once you push the number you want a small lcd panel tells you what elevator to look for… once you get in the elevator there are only a couple of buttons – open and close door – but no floor buttons.  Freaked me out the first few times:


Here is the Stratford International station – where we the DLR picks up and drops off (which is at the far left down some stairs) and the Javelin Station – on the right… the tents are where we enter, go through security to get onto the bus system which takes us to the MPC:

One of the few things transportation did well – was to provide double decker buses – many times they are packed full – here is Paul – we are sitting on the North Loop bus, on the second floor – the red bus is going on the South Loop – it was all very confusing:


Well that’s about it.  Here is John and I on the bus on the way to lunch:

And here is the mall – completely nuts – busier than a mall during the holidays in the states:


Well – not to talk bad about food – but had the third worst meal of my life – here in England – ordered shepherd pie – but with beef instead of lamb – called the cow pie (I know bad sign!).  Paul and I ordered it and the lady next to us ordered it.  Paul and the lady sent it back.  I was so hungary I slogged through it – but Paul made sure we didn’t pay for it.  It was so bad the waiter said he will make sure to stop taking orders for it!

We got gelato afterwards – I had mint chocolate chip – my favorite ice cream – first time in gelato form – it was pretty good – next door was a krispy kreme:


We ran into John Mabanglo back at the MPC – I think this may have been his Bolt impression:


Work was kinda wishy- washy on whether I should go to basketball or track… first track, then basketball, then track – ha – but finally settled on track.  So Paul and I went there – John went to basketball.  Got there early and figured I’d try and remote again… this time it actually worked – put it on the press tribune.  It was a little back-focused but looks okay – here is my spot – a little to the right of the finish line:


Today was only my third day of track… There was the high jump and javelin – of which we could see nothing.  But four big races.  Men’s 5000m, Women’s 800m, Women’s 4x400m relay and Men’s 4x100m relay.

Oh – this is the way we get to our spots on the field from the workroom – walk right under the Olympic Torch – that is cool – you can feel the heat radiating from it:

Smiley rolled in for a bit after shooting soccer – and scooted out after the Women’s 4x400m relay to head to basketball – I contemplated that for a second – but that’s all.  All were good – the Women’s in the 4x400m relay won by such a huge margin that they didn’t do much jube.  Oh well.  It was a fun night – finished somewhat early and I pushed Paul to finish early too so that we could make it to “The Real Greek” restaurant for dinner (because the kitchen closes at midnight).  Made it over and had a great dinner!  Made up for lunch – beet salad, baba ghanoush, chicken souvlaki, chips (fries), and a chicken skewer.  Needless to say I was completely stuffed.  Scott and his wife made it just under the wire from basketball.

I can’t believe tomorrow is the LAST day of shooting!  Looks like basketball and then closing ceremonies and then I’m done!!!!!!!!!!!!  So excited to get back home!






Day 14


Mark Purdy story on Track – pix by me

Elliott Almond story on BMX – pix by me



Field Hockey

After many days, finally had another sit-down meal.  I finished track and field tonight at 11 – I was sitting next to Wally Skalij (LA Times) and Paul and Scott… instead of asking when they would be done (because I knew it would be awhile).  Scott was nice enough to find out that the Greek restaurant in the mall was open until midnight.  So I booked out of there and grabbed the bus – which was, amazingly there!  And headed over to the Stratford International to the Greek place – ran into Jim Collins outside of the station – good to see him again… then got some good food and Mythos beer… Chicken souvlaki and some chicken wings yum – I could have ordered more but the kitchen closed:

One thing I didnt talk about last night was food and getting back… So the subway closes in stages… So when I took the bus back to Russell square the plan was to grab something to eat and then jump on the subway.  When we got back to Russell square at 1:30 – On a hunch I asked the transportation people when the Russell Square station closed – they said at 1:30!  So they said walk to the Holborn Station – not too far away… The thing that sucked is that I’m walking past all of these open restaurants with people eating and enjoying beer outside knowing that I have to rush to the subway so that I can get home and eat a tuna wrap in my tiny dorm room!  UGH  And I did notice a few people eating that had photo vests on!  Double UGH!  Here are the waitresses from tonight – not sure what masks they are wearing:

I didn’t get to bed last night until around 4:30 – but was able to sleep in until about 11:30 – so that was nice.  I found out Elliott was writing about BMX – so I headed over there.  I ran into Paul at security (weird how I keep randomly bumping into people at different places).  He told me that he was heading to BMX too but had to swing by the MPC to see Bill about a ticket for closing ceremonies.  So just to clarify – when I say I needed to get tickets for swimming or for opening or closing ceremonies or for basketball or whatever, that just means that the Olympics people have deemed a certain event to be in high demand – therefore they are going to ticket the event and allow certain countries a certain amount of photographers to cover the event.  So the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) is allotted a certain amount of tickets and we have to sign up for them.  And then various factors – like size of publication, amount of locals and so forth will determine who gets a ticket.  There is no charge – it’s merely a way to monitor how many photographers (they do this for reporters as well) can cover an event.  There are so few papers here that it probably makes things easier on Bill.  Here is the USOC office on the fourth floor (but it’s 3 on the elevator – because the first floor is actually 0) – it’s right next to the LA Times – the LA Times office is right next to the NYT office:

We walked over to the BMX track – we figured it would take 12-15 minutes to walk, it’s right next to the Velodrome – which we walked to before a few days ago – unknown time to take the bus.  It was really hot – I jinxed myself in the last post where I said no one needs sunscreen here!  I hadn’t shot BMX before, we shot the semifinals – which consisted of two heats for men and women with three runs for each heat.  I went to a bad spot first couple of races and then hooked up with john and Paul.  Here is Brian Peterson “resting” between races:

Now that I figured out I can do the panos with the 16-35mm – I did two more – one on the track… after BMX I walked over to the field hockey arena – called Riverbank and did one there.  Paul and Scott headed to the Stadium for track.  Look how crazy it was, field hockey was just letting out:

Grabbed a bus and headed to Track from the MPC.  It was a long hot walk to the MPC but I made it.  Sat down and got situated and John Mabanglo stopped by and gave me a nice bear hug from behind – he said “luckily I showered today.” haha

Had a grand misunderstanding concerning remotes – I wanted to put a remote down by a moat – after Wally suggested it to be a good spot – which it was… but the photo helper said that if I put a remote down I had to stay in the same moat???  I was like um the whole point of putting a remote camera up is so that I can be somewhere else!  Anyway after finding two other people they finally put me in touch with the guy in charge Craig – really nice guy – I told him the place where I wanted to put the remote that it was not in any ones way and that it was in a “photo area” and he’s like “yea that’s fine, just keep it under the railing.”  so I did:

Luckily worked it out, but of course I got nothing worth anything from the remote.  I positioned my in the moat not directly in front of the finish line – but a little further down.  Here’s my spot:

David Eulitt stopped by shortly after I got there – we photographed a bunch of races including the poor American who was tripped up… I had a judge who was sitting in front of me – and I barely caught the trip.  Track is difficult because there are so many people out there… you can see the shoulder of the judge on the right – while Uceny is tripping:

The jube at the end is super hard cause of this, tv guys – usually at least two – that’s Jeter celebrating their 4x100m relay win:

And there is also this – pool guys – it’s the 4x100m relay ladies having their picture taken with their world record time:

Anyway – besides all that it was a fun evening.  And I ate a good Greek meal.  That made me happy.

Lucky 13


Mark Purdy Story on Soccer – my pix

Panorama from inside Wembley

“We have the coolest job! I love my job!” Robert Gauthier (LA Times) was saying while standing on the pitch (field) of Wembley before the USA vs Japan Women’s Football (that’s real football you American blokes!) gold medal game. He’s fun to be around – immensely talented with a great attitude.

Slept in this morning – it was really great. There really isn’t much to do in the morning – at this point it’s all prelim stuff and then the nights are the medals – so anything that is shot in the morning becomes utterly useless – unless you need a specific athlete or something like that.

Grabbed a burger at the MPC and then ran into Paul in the photo area in the MPC. Also ran into Doug and Andrew – we all chatted for a bit. We decided to grab the 3:10 bus (the game was at 7:45) – and it was roughly an hour bus ride. Ran into Robert Beck on the bus. I did a little sight-seeing until I passed out – here is Paul on the bus (not a double-decker):

A cool building – those arches are super cool:

Paul had to wake me up when we arrived outside of Wembley – stumbled out and thought I was in a dream because all of the sudden it was sunny and hot!:

We walked up to Wembley and there was a long queue of photographers – with the majority being Japanese. Who knows how long they had been there. In Vancouver and Beijing there were stories of some of them sleeping overnight to be first in line! WTH (what the heck).

A British guy standing in front of us said this is where they enter when they cover normal football games – and that we would be working out of the workroom there – so that was a good sign that meant that the workroom wouldn’t be a 1/4 mile from the pitch – or on the opposite side of the building – as it has typically been. Nice signage with Paul:

As you can see we had a lot of time in line waiting for them to let us in… that’s Robert Beck (SI) on the top left, his assistant Jordan (I think) and Paulie at the back of the line:

So I’m going to go on a little rant – the Japanese media are insane. We get into the workroom, which is quite small and we find out that they won’t let us out onto the pitch until 5:45 – two hours before the game – we got in at about 4:45. So we have an hour. Instead of sitting down and catching up on email or chatting or whatever – they get in line again in the middle of the workroom – one of the photo workers was like “we didn’t ask them to get in line” (note: I did not get in line):

Then at 5:45 they open the door and it’s a complete mad house – you’d think that whey were vying for only two spots to shoot from on the pitch, people sprinting, elbowing their way out there – pure craziness… and this is what it actually looked like when we got out there HAHAHA – a ton of space:

Since we have so many bay area athletes – we just concentrate on the ones that medal -the ones that don’t – don’t get any ink (at least the majority of the time). One of the star soccer players happens to be from California and went to Cal – Alex Morgan. So was hoping to see her score a goal – but knew at the very least she would get a silver medal.

I decided to set up a remote behind one the goals – I’ve set up countless remotes – but never one behind the goal (at least that I can remember – okay maybe once – but it’s been a long time). With all remotes 99% of the time you get nothing. But always worth at least trying. I got one picture I liked at the end of the night. Here’s one that’s okay (not the one I’m talking about) – it’s kinda a weird place for a remote because of the netting… but this is what it looks like – and just in case you don’t know – a remote camera is a camera that is placed in a certain area that you cannot photograph from – as per this example there is no way they would let us sit behind the goal – so it gives us a different angle. The cameras are triggered with a wireless transmitter… and again – sometimes it works – most of the time it doesn’t – but it’s fun to try:

Ran into my friend John Todd – a great Bay Area soccer/sports photographer – as I was finishing up my remotes – here he is – on the right – setting his remote up – my remote is the fourth from the left – with the plastic bag on it (we were told they were going to water the pitch so it was best to cover the camera):

Paul was there to actually cover the Japanese team (ack) – and I was there of course to cover the USA… I really enjoy covering soccer – but the one thing that drives me nuts is that they do the coin flip like seconds before the game starts – so you never know which side to set up on. But Paul and I worked out a deal that we would switch spots at half – and save it by leaving our backpack on our spots so that I could get USA going towards me both halves and he could get Japan. The thing about soccer is that it’s such a huge field and never know where things are going to happen. It’s a pure guessing game. The photo Gods shined on me tonight though and I was a good spot for the first goal… well I didn’t see the actual goal – but the jube (reaction) faced me – which was very exciting. I was able to get off a long sequence:

That’s a screen shot of Photo Mechanic – the green high-lighted ones are the pictures that I “tagged” on my camera so that I could look at them when I started editing. This was shot with a Nikon D4 on a 200-400mm f4 lens with a 1.4x converter – so that makes the 200-400mm f5.6. I love that lens – I get things I wouldn’t be able to get if I was shooting with a fixed lens – like a 400mm f2.8 or a 300mm f2.8. With the Olympics when you’re in a set spot having a long zoom is really a game-changer – I don’t have to worry about missing anything because I’m in the midst of changing lenses. I probably like this frame the most – and best part about it – is our local – Alex Morgan is center front – with pink headband:

So I felt very fortunate and lucky to have been able to see that – and I mean that literally, it is super easy to get blocked – there were sound people, referees, video camera guys, other players all in front of us… Or they could have faced the opposite direction… so many variables.

Anyway – once this happened – which was early in the game – then I had to stress out about whether or not they were going to win the game… because if Japan ended up winning – then that picture becomes meaningless. Luckily the same player – Carli Lloyd scored twice. I didn’t have much from her second goal – but that’s okay.

I have to say that this was a really cool, special event to witness. The third time in a row that the US has won gold in Women’s Football, it was a huge rematch from the World Cup – what would you rather have an Olympic gold medal or a World Cup championship? And this was the largest crowd to ever witness a Women’s football game – an announced crowd of 80,203. I remember shooting the Cyber Rays – a long defunct Women’s soccer team in San Jose that would barely draw 5,000. It was just cool to see so much support and it was a great, loud crowd.

So yea, what Robert said – “I love my job.”

Day L


Women’s Beach Volleyball Final – USA vs USA – story by Mark Purdy pix by me

Women’s boxing – story by Mark Purdy – pix by me

My friend Conan posted this funny slideshow of me at the Olympics

Not a whole lot going on this morning – which was good cause I needed a bit of rest.  Women’s boxing was the first thing of merit – met John over there and we photographed from different spots.  I haven’t shot a lot of boxing but I know ringside is typically the best.  Here they only (as far as I can see) allow pool photographers (that would be the large agencies) a ringside spot – and there are only four ringside spots!  Bummer!

I was running a little late and I knew space was at a premium at the boxing venue – which is in the ExCel building – but the photo workspace was super hard to find and it was super far away… so after I locked things up ran out there and went to a super high spot first – I asked a helper if there were any lower spots and he just shrugged his shoulders – so I scanned the stands and found a bunch of photographers and booked over there.  Well the kinda low place was too low – realized once the fighters came out that they were really short!  Like basically didn’t stand above the ropes!  oh well.  Shot a few bouts down there and then moved up.  The lady from Ireland – Katie Taylor – was an obvious fan favorite, the crowd went nuts and she beat down the lady from Tajikistan pretty badly.  Pictures weren’t that great – but not much I can do about that – positions stunk.

Afterwards met John in the main concourse – I got some pretty good Indian food.  John couldn’t decide what he wanted so didn’t get anything – so I ate the food, curry and chicken, on the bus back to the MPC.  Once we got to the MPC I went over to the medical center again – and they prescribed me another antibiotic because I still have a minor chest infection – said rest and sleep and the antibiotic will help… Well, I’ll be taking the antibiotic.  She said that I should get it x-rayed when I get home, if I’m not any better.  But today was much better than yesterday.  I am excited to go home and get in my own bed!

Afterwards went upstairs to the photo workroom and saw John and Paul and Scott… I wanted to check and see if the 15mm lens that went missing was magically turned in – it was not.  So it was most definitely stolen.  ugh.  Did a few things and then headed off to the bus, for the last time to go to beach volleyball, thank God!  Pain in the butt venue.  They drop you off a 1/2 mile from the media center – and then it’s another 1/4 to the venue.

Here’s something I saw at the pharmacy that nobody needs here – since it’s typically nice and overcast:

I got into the venue around 6:30 pm for the 9:00 pm game.  I had forgotten that the bronze medal match was before the gold medal match and was wondering why everyone was heading out to the court… edited some images from boxing and then when I saw that David Eulitt was heading out, halfway through the second set, I decided to go with him – he hadn’t been there before so I figured I could show him how to get to the court – and I wanted to put up a remote up top.  This is the view from where I put the remote – everyone took this picture -but it’s still pretty up there.  The game is bronze medal game – by the time the USA vs USA game started it was pitch black:

As I was heading out I thought I heard my name and then I looked up and I saw my friend from college – Stephanie!  She’s out here with her family, it was a little tough to talk to her cause they have loud music playing at the beach volleyball venue – but it was great to see her!

It was the USA versus the USA, but the USA that we cared about contained Kerri Walsh – a San Josian (is that a word?).  She grew up in San Jose – so a true local.  Sometimes we kinda stretch the word “local.”  For example, someone might have gone to college for a year or two and moved on, they could still be considered “local.”  Her and her teammate Misty have won the gold medal twice already, I covered their gold medal game at the last Olympics in China – because of NBC it was at 11 am and it rained and they won.

Tonight was another good, quick game for them and they won their third gold.  So that was pretty cool.  I set up a remote so that it was a bit of an overall and would show both teams and hopefully get something good.  It was okay.  I’m actually in this picture.  If you can pick me out I’ll give you a penny:

Kerri was pretty good to photograph – nice and emotional.  This was the fourth or fifth game that I had been to this Olympics.  So far there had usually been about 6-10 photographers shooting each game – tonight I swear there were about 200 – it was completely nuts-bonkers at the end – she’s in there somewhere:

It took awhile once the game was over, they had to do some interviews, run around, then wait for the medal ceremony – they let us out in the middle of the court – here’s the view from center court as we are waiting for the ceremony to start:

After the awards ceremony they ran around some more and then finally they were done.  I had to go up and get my remote – then head back to the media center to transmit.  I was chatting with Robert Gauthier (from the L.A. Times) – he’s an awesome shooter and super nice guy – it was funny he was saying when he didn’t do well he transmits a lot.  I said to him “I do the same thing!”  Our rational is that you flood them with average pictures and hope that the editors see one that stands out – haha.  But I’m sure he had a great game, it was just funny.  By the time everyone was done it was after midnight.  I suggested Super Star and Scott looked it up – it closed at 2.  I figured i’d have to leave at 1:30 cause the Tube stops running at 2-2:30.  So we walked about 10 minutes up to Super Star Chinese Restaurant – the third time for me!

Paul, Robert, Scott, his wife, David and I were there.  We sat down at about 12:50… unfortunately at 1:20 the food hadn’t come so I asked for it to go.  I left a little after 1:30 thinking I had plenty of time to make it to the Tube stop at Leicester – a five minute walk.  When I got there it was closed – I was wrong – the Tube closes even earlier depending on where it is located!  ACK!  So I looked on my iPhone for the next closest stop – that was Tottenham Court Road… walked up there – it’s a little scary when you’re in a town you barely know, rolling with a crap ton of expensive gear and a lot of drunkards around and it’s nearly 2 in the morning.  Tottenham Court Road was also closed – panic time!

Took a few deep breaths and was thinking about taking a bus, but had no idea where the buses went and then imagined myself riding the bus all night.  Scott had mentioned some cab people that just stand on the side of the road (they are wearing official “cab” vests).  So I found one – and negotiated a price – well they told me how much it would cost and it was a lot less than I thought it would be.  When I took the cab from the MPC back to the dorms after Opening Ceremonies it was $23 (pounds).  I was at least twice as far away – they asked for $35.  Then we basically walked to some dudes unmarked car… I was like – uh ok – am I going to be robbed or something.  But the dude was really nice – he was born in London but ethnically is from Pakistan – said he had been home once but he couldn’t speak the language so it was tough to get around.  Sounded familiar to me.  He had three kids.  Anyway – made it back safe and sound.  My honey pork tasted super good too…

I used the word “super” a lot in this post 😮

This one goes to Eleven


Beach Volleyball – story by Elliott Almond – pix by me

Women’s Water Polo – story by Elliott Almond – pix by me

Laundry this morning, finally.  In the building next door the laundry machines are free!  (Normally you have to pay – but I guess for the Olympics they set them as free) – didn’t take too long either:

I got to the train stop one minute before the train was supposed to leave and I was all excited because it said it was the Stratford International train, which never happens, that meant I wouldn’t have to transfer anywhere!  But about four stops from the Stratford International they all of the sudden “terminated” the line… so everyone had to get off and change trains.  oh well, I tried to take a picture the “Stratford International” sign but didn’t show up:

After the DLR went to the MPC because I wanted to get some more cough medicine.  This morning was bad, has a relapse.  Since 2000, I’ve only called in sick, I think, 5-6 times.  Today I would have called in sick for sure.   I swear I’m allergic to something in my room.  I was able to get some more medicine but didn’t have enough time to run to the doctor as I ran out of antibiotics.  Will try and do that tomorrow morning.  I went back to the MPC hoping to get some of that beef stew but they didn’t have it.  But next to McDonald’s there is a “Grill” place – and I had a nice steak.  Was running a little behind so finished up and went to the bus to get to the Water Polo venue.

Ran into one of our former columnists – Ann Killion – it was good to see her, we chatted for a little bit – then she had to do a live thingy with KFOG – that was cool.  So the swim venue is about 50 feet away from the water polo venue… but we aren’t allowed to walk between venues (at least the short way – we can walk up to the Olympic Stadium and then back down – that’s a haul).  For some reason the bus doesn’t drop off in front of the media center – it drops off about 1,000 feet from it?  sigh.  As we were getting off the bus John was on the lower level.

USA Women were playing Australia – we could only stay for the first half because we had to book over to Women’s Beach Volleyball – for Kerri Walsh.  So we shot the first half and then packed up.  It was a little bit of a disaster – John and I walked with Elliott – he said he had a great route – which it probably was if there hadn’t been a gillion people around.  The mall was just completely insane.  We kinda bailed on him and walked over from the Stratford Station to the Stratford International Station and ended up taking the Javelin down… the Javelin is super cool – it goes about 140 mph and reaches downtown in about 10 minutes with no other stops, and it has a bathroom and nice seats:

The Javelin terminates at the Kings Cross station – apparently this is the station to get to Hogwarts – Harry Potter!  John said there is a platform named 9 1/2 – didn’t have time to see it though!:

We took a few Tube lines – Victoria to Northern (but went south) to the media entrance, well it was the media entrance that has been working for the past week.  Today all of the sudden we are told that we can no longer use that entrance, that we have to walk around.  “Around” is a 20 minute walk.  Considering the media center was one minute away from where we were we were quite pissed.  It made no sense because fans could still go through that entrance as well.  The kicker is that Paul arrived about an hour later and they let him through there.  Typically as the days go by things at the Olympics (logistical things) get easier – here they are getting more difficult.

Luckily the rain held off and Kerri Walsh Jennings and Misty May-Treanor were able to defeat the Chinese team – they barely did but it was a fun match.

Afterwards John and Paul and I went to the Chinese restaurant Elliott and I had eaten at a few days ago – Super Star Chinese Restaurant.  We walked in the rain but it was worth it, since I wasn’t feeling too well had three bowls of soup and a small appetizer.  Elliott was able to join us and we took the Northern Line to the Central Line to the DLR back to the dorms.  Hoping I feel better tomorrow…

Day 10!


Field Hockey (unknown location)

Synchronized Swimming (unknown location)

Track & Field

Look at the cool pin I got from Terry Schmidt, a super nice, old-school, cool photographer from the Bay Area – who works for UPI. Terry is actually one of the first people I met (outside of the Merc) when I moved to San Jose in 2000 – I was covering the US Open at Pebble Beach and he welcomed me to the Bay Area – still remember – it was on the first green I believe. 🙂 One of the things that used to be huge was trading pins amongst organizations and you’d use them to bribe the staff for favors (haha) but that isn’t as big of a deal since there are so few organizations here and the ones that are here don’t often make pins anymore – but it was fun to see in Greece – people were going crazy for the pins. So Terry gave me one of his sweet pins and was nice enough to give me limited edition pin in a hilariously cool ring box – haha:

Was planning on doing laundry in the morning but John talked me into doing field hockey instead – US versus South Africa. I had only photographed it once before in Greece, I think, interesting sport. It looks very uncomfortable because the sticks are so short they have to lean over and run at the same time – doesn’t seem like it would be good for the back. They just call it hockey here – I really enjoy covering hockey – this wasn’t too bad either – but much slower – but they aren’t wearing helmets (most of the time) so it’s good for facial expressions. They water down the field at half-time so that the ball moves around better – here is John enjoying it:

I was planning on covering synchronized swimming and the water polo and then track and field – but it turned out that we thought water polo was at 5:30 – but it really started at 15:30 which is 3:30 of course. Synchro started at 3:00… so impossible to do both. Went to MPC to grab some food – was hoping for the beef stew from the other day but they had fish and chips which didn’t look too great – so had to settle for a quarter pounder. Grabbed the bus and ran into Jed when we stopped at the Olympic Stadium -here he is waiting to get on (second from right):

We both were going to Synchro swimming – he had never shot it before – I’ve shot it a bunch of times but only above water, so we both decided to try it under water. It was cool – there were 24 teams competing – the US was 22! Each one was about 3-4 minutes, then a few minutes break – so it took quite some time to finish. It’s neat they have windows under water – the view is good as long as they are straight on – if they move the side of the window there is too much distortion in the glass. John popped down after he went to wrestling.

Afterwards we headed to track… John and I were ready to walk and Jed wanted to take the bus – we made fun of him. It’s about a 10 minute walk to the stadium from the Aquatics Centre – if we wanted to take the bus – it would have taken about 20 minutes – and that just if the bus happened to be sitting there… which it most definitely would not have been. We talked him into walking – and even though he was gripping (jokingly of course) he came to the conclusion that that was a good call. Headed out to turn three so I could see the pole vault and the runners go by, here’s my spot:

Pole vault was totally anti- climactic – one would think that in the finals that their last jump would win – well it is the last jump they complete – but it wasn’t the last jump. The jump that won happened a long time before the end of the competition. They keep increasing the height and if no one makes that increased height then the previous high is the winner. Hope that makes sense. So the winning pole vault the American completed was about an hour before they finished – so they finished on a bunch of misses. I was hoping that a pole vaulter would clear the bar and then freakout – but that didn’t happen. The lady from Cuba didn’t clear a certain height and so the US person won.

Waiting for Paulie, right, – Wally is also not finished – only a few of us left in the media center.

Ok, I’m going to go on a little rant here… So we walked out of the Olympic Stadium at midnight and went to the bus stop and waited, and waited and waited. There should be a bus every 10 minutes or so. Ridiculous because we saw four empty buses drive by. After 45 minutes Paul and I gave up and decided to walk – there was a sign that said “West Ham” station – so I headed in that direction – Paul went to Stratford International… well that ended up being a 30 minute walk! Sucks after a 14 hour day especially since there were a ton of stairs. John waited for the bus – it actually ended up being faster to walk… whoever “planned” the transportation here did a horrible job. So got back to room an hour later than I should have… oh well.

Day Numero Nine


Beach Volleyball – Story by Elliott Almond – pix by me

USA Fencing – wire story pix by me

Women’s boxing – wire story – pix by me


Beach Volleyball Venue (this has to be the venue with the nicest views)

Beach Volleyball Venue – outside

I got to feel like a real human tonight – went and had a sit down meal (Chinese food) with Elliott after beach volleyball in “Chinatown,” right next to Leicester Square.  Pretty darn good – after that we went to Haagen Dazs for ice cream!  Chocolate Chocolate Chip!:

Dragged a little this morning – yesterday was a long day – figured I spent at least five hours of the day either on the bus, the tube, the train or walking!

John let me know about some US fencing team in the semifinal – with one fencer from San Francisco (ended up two of them were from SF) – so headed over there – it was at ExCel – it’ll be nice to finally be going cause it’s only about four train stops from where I am staying.

Found the media entrance – took me a while to figure out where things were cause the signage wasn’t so great… But found the “field of play” waited until the round before the US was over and found a very helpful photo person.  He explained to me most of the rules and what was going to happen.  I photographed fencing before – but didn’t have anyone tell me how the scoring and stuff worked.

Afterwards shot four rounds of Women’s boxing – USA vs Great Britain – first time for Women’s boxing… I have a female friend that boxes – so that was neat.  Was very quick – and the USA boxer didn’t do so great.  John and I grabbed lunch at ExCel – a roast chicken place… it was okay.  Bye John:

Then headed straight from ExCel to Russell Square – John and I were joking that since it would make sense then the bus probably wouldn’t go from ExCel to Russell Square (downtown) – but they actually did have a bus that did that.  So he headed off to the Olympic Stadium and I headed off to beach volleyball.  We took a little tour of London because I guess a bunch of roads were closed:

Ran into Robert Gauthier (LA Times) at beach volleyball – he had just gotten back from Wimbledon – he covered the Men’s gold medal singles final – it became a ticketed event and apparently only six US media were admitted (even if we had wanted to cover it we probably couldn’t have gotten in) – it was Great Britain vs. Sweden.

Tonight is what pretty much everyone would consider to be the biggest event in the Olympics.  It’s also the scariest to cover.  The Men’s 100m.  I had planned to cover the 100m, brought my remotes over the pond mostly just for that event… but our local beach volleyball players are in the quarterfinals and if they lost then it would have been a really big deal.  If Kerri Walsh Jennings (as she prefers to be known according to Purdy) wins then it’s not a big deal at all – as our Olympics sports editor, Mark Conley, said – we (Elliott and I) are babysitting beach volleyball.  They are playing against the Italians who apparently beat them in the last year… so it was possible for them to lose.  But they didn’t, not even close – it was a nice quick match.  So we got to watch the 100m on tv… that’s Elliott on the far left, and Robert – second from right (blurry):

Kyle Terada was here and he was nice enough to loan me his 16mm so that I could do a couple more panoramas – one that I really wanted to do from the top of the beach volleyball venue cause it has a super cool background – and then one outside so that you could see that it’s a completely temporary structure.  Was hoping to go to dinner with Robert but he kinda crashed so Elliott and I walked around near the venue – it was late – like 10:30 but found the Chinese place – Super Star Chinese Restaurant.

On the way we ran into Dana Vollmer on the street with her family – she’s won like four gold medals or something like that – she went to Stanford.  They were there watching beach volleyball.  Elliott recognized her and her family, they recognized Elliott, since he has interviewed them a bunch of times – he was nice enough to introduce me – but they didn’t know me from Adam.  They were super nice.  They had just finished eating at a Thai restaurant that Elliott wanted to go to a half block away (it was closed by the time got there though).  “That’s the Olympics” Elliott said.  It was really neat – normal people doing extraordinary things (at least that’s my interpretation of his statement).

Day 8


Mark Purdy’s story on “Blade Runner” (not very good) pix by me

Elliott Almond on Women’s Tennis pix by me

Mark Purdy’s story on Beach Volleyball pix by me

Two more panoramas

Inside Wimbledon

Inside Olympic Stadium

Brian Peterson and I decided to do the exact same thing today – but completely Independently of each other…

Four hours of sleep last night – waking up was a little tough.  But had to leave the room by 8:30ish – I figured out the DLR leaves from the Cyprus stop every 10 minutes – starting at :00.  So I just have to time it so that I leave my room by :05 after.

Left the room at 8:33 – got to Cyprus station at 8:37.  DLR to Canning Town, switch to DLR train to Stratford International then to Media entrance where I caught a bus to the MPC and then from the MPC changed to a stadium bus.  One hour.  Ugh

Headed to the “moat” that’s one of the photo positions ground level at the stadium.  Was going for one race for a Mark Purdy story at 10:35… The Men’s 400m qualifying… That is the race that the “Blade Runner” (another one of my favorite movies) is running in – in lane 6.  If you haven’t heard the Blade Runner is a runner who had won four Olympic gold medals – in the paraOlympics and qualified for the Olympics – read the story it’s a good one.  Brian was in the moat that faced the finish line – I was in the moat next to the finish line – I should have been in the moat Brian was in.

I thought it was really cool and he got a nice reception from the crowd.  The moat I was in was stage left – I actually probably should have been directly facing the finish line.  But as per usual here – no easy way to move around.  By the time I unpacked from the bus and got out to the most it was 10:00… I did a panorama from the position.

Blade Runner qualified – he is obviously ok with title because the announced him as such.  My mind had been too swimming oriented – the 400m in the pool means a bunch of laps? So I was thinking maybe he’ll go around a few times – but then there was a qualifying heat for the Men’s 100m and I was like – oh yea track is 400m round.

Seems like he is a good ambassador and I’m always in awe of people who have what most would consider to be a “handicap” but they certainly don’t want to do anything less or be treated any differently.

Booked to the bus to the MPC and changed to the Wimbledon bus and made it by 1 minute!  They leave every 30 minutes so timing was very good.  I was shocked to see only one other person on this bus – that meant I was either really late or really early.  Had a nice 20-25 minute power nap – bus trip was just under and hour.  Turned out I was really early, empty bus:

Because I was early I got a great clear center spot… directly across from Brian (at this point we still hadn’t spoken).  About 15 minutes before the match a bunch of photographers showed up.  I’m not really a tennis fan, but I will admit that I knew that this is a special spot – and it was pretty cool.  I think it’s probably akin to going to Augusta where the Masters is played (golf).  My spot, I think that’s Andy Murray serving during this mixed-doubles match before the Serena Williams match:

Match was super fast – had just seen Serena play in Palo Alto, right after winning at Wimbledon – she won at both places – in PA she didn’t win easily and it was basically against Stanford students… So figured this might be kinda close.  Well it wasn’t and she showed some great emotion at winning – much better than some of the swimmers who had little-to-no reaction to winning their gold medals yesterday.  Inside Wimbledon – surprisingly not elegant:

After the match I made my way over to cover the medal ceremony – found a good place though some guy hit me in the head with his lens five times – it was pretty annoying and he didn’t speak English and kept giving me “I don’t know look.”  When I got back I couldn’t find my 15mm – i had left it with my lens shade and pano head.  I checked my pocket and thought it was in there but when I got back what I thought was lens was not… So walked back to photo spot and the lens was gone :(.  But I got a flag picture I like because I happened to park myself (accidentally) right in front of where they attach the flag – it was so windy that the US flag actually blew off during the middle of the ceremony – oops!:

Hung out for a bit hoping the 15mm would show up – left my name with the photo people in case someone found it… Sucks because I have been really good about locking stuff up. The one time I leave it for 10 minutes it disappears.  If anyone sees a 15mm with “San Jose Mercury News” engraved in it – it’s the Mercs!!!  Oh yea and to top things off, I somehow bumped my camera into shooting raw – and small raw on top of it… still have no idea how that happened cause it’s not easy to change…

Interesting covered workstations – said “hello” to Brian – he wasn’t in this particular room – but another exactly like this one downstairs:

Grabbed a bus – a double decker and thought I would enjoy the view on the way – I did until I passed out and took a nice 10-15 minute power nap.  View from the top – sitting behind two unhappy Russians – cruising down the Olympic lane:

After I got off the bus stepped outside and Brian was standing there.  No idea he was on the bus… but we walked over to the bus to the beach volleyball venue.  Had my first meal of the day (7:00 pm) there, well besides a Cliff Bar.  Dinner was pretty bad – but I was so hungry I didn’t care, lasagna, some stew and sausage (actually the sausage wasn’t too bad).  It was a very quick match – which was nice.  Brian getting directions from a nice helper – though the walk was a good 10-15 minute walk to the media center:

Afterwards just jumped on the Tube to the DLR to another DLR to the dorms.  Edited in the room.  16 hour day, not too bad.  But now I have nothing to eat and for some reason the campus store that was open until 4 am is no longer open at all… oh well!

footnote – thanks to Karl and neighbor John (who shoots for USA Gymnastics) – I had a beer (from Karl) and ramen noodles (from John) – or else my dinner would have been pringles and a chocolate croissant…



Elliott Almond story on swimming – pix by me

USA Women’s basketball (no story)

Inside the Velodrome

Outside the Velodrome

Pictures from the Velodrome (no story)

“Hello Cleveland!” – i hope you recognize that from the Rob Reiner movie Spinal Tap – one of my all time favorite movies – today I had a total Spinal Tap moment. Had lunch with Paul Kitagaki and Scott McKiernan (from Zuma) and John at the MPC… Had some pretty decent beef stew in the cafeteria… After that we figured it would be faster to walk to the Velodrome then take the bus — I think it was faster only took about 15 minutes. I had never photographed inside the Velodrome and always wanted too. Here is Paul – sort of having fun – oh yea and it was pretty hot in there – apparently they have to keep it at a certain temperature so that the tires remain at a certain temperature:

It was neat and all – but I was a bit confused – for example – one of the races went eight laps – but some dude on an electric bike was “pacing” them for like the first 5 1/2 laps – so they really only raced the last 2 1/2 laps – ? It was interesting. The venue is cool looking from the outside and kinda small on the inside – and everything looked kinda of the same. After we were done shooting we started to head back to the media center – but none of the helpers knew where we were supposed to go – they kept directing us to different places – the arrows would be pointed one way and they would point us in the opposite direction.

Heres the Spinal Tap moment. – we were following the signs and one sign pointed directly to a dead end glass wall / “Hello Cleveland” – Really?!?

Today was a little frustrating… everything that I want to cover is at the SAME time! Swimming starts a 7:30 – but I’m in the A spot so I need to be there early – probably by 5:30. What else would I like to cover – Volleyball – 8:00, water polo – 7:40, swimming – 7:30, I would kinda like to shoot fencing final – 6:45. Can only cover one of those events.

I could have gone to judo but that’s at Excel – near my dorms which is about a 50 minute commute from the MPC and I needed to go to the MPC because I needed to get a swim ticket from Bill Hancock. So I didn’t really want to go up to the MPC get the swim ticket and then back down to Excel – but probably should have. After I picked up the ticket from Bill and chatted a little bit with him and then met Paul, Scott and John for lunch… As of now the only other events that will be ticketed are Men’s basketball and closing ceremonies!

After the Velodrome we all headed to swimming – yea the last day of swimming!!! – at least for me – there is one more day but I won’t be covering it. I sat in the front row of A cause I got there about an hour and a half early. The US did great tonight – three golds, a couple silvers and a bronze. That’s Missy Franklin from Colorado posing for photographers with her gold medal:

Headed to Women’s basketball after that. It was nice – few photographers – ran into SI’s John Beiver – super nice and talented of course, and another guy from SI named Mark (I think his assistant?). Smiley popped in while I was shooting – we both just shot the first half – then headed out.

One of the good things about being in a place that is off the beaten path, the UEL (University of East London), is that the train station has not been busy. Apparently there was a mega long line to get into the Tube to go downtown – where many photographers are staying. Anyway long day for me tomorrow so signing off!