BMX Athlete Nic Long Gets An Olympic Sendoff Aboard The USS Midway
CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, it's Thursday, July 26th. Our top story on Midday Edition, San Diego prepares for Olympic fever. Of course, this time around, the fever will have to conform to proper British reserve. Many of the athletes from the Olympic training center in Chula Vista are already in London awaiting the start of the games tomorrow. Some are still here. Some of those athletes will join in a big event aboard the USS midway museum tomorrow. The opening ceremonies will be broadcast on big screens open to the public. And joining me to tell us about the event are my guests, Scott McGaw is author of midway magic and midway, memories, and marketing director for the USS midway museum. MCGAW: Thank you Maureen. CAVANAUGH: Nic Long is a member of the U.S. Olympic team; he grew up right here in lakeside. LONG: How's it going? CAVANAUGH: Pretty good, thank you. How is the midway showing the ceremonies? MCGAW: We're going to have two large-screen TVs on the night deck. This is going to be an #50E679 up on the flight deck with the gates opening at 6:30. The broadcast beginning at 7:30. And we've put together along with the Olympic training center, and the YMCA of San Diego a family-oriented event. An opportunity to meet athletes and demonstrations which we can get into, but it's an opportunity for San Diegans to supporter other San Diegans who are in the Olympics and serving their country, if you will, on the athletic field. CAVANAUGH: These two big screens, is this NBC's coverage of the Olympics? MCGAW: Yes. It's NBC's coverage live on the flight deck. It's going to be set up in a way that's kind of like a picnic. So we're encouraging folks to bring a light-weight lunch, and a lawn chair. Outdoor, picnic-style opportunity to share in all the glory and pomp and circumstance brought to you by NBC on TV. CAVANAUGH: Now, Scott, it's a free event? MCGAW: Yes, it is! CAVANAUGH: Does that mean there's no entry fee to get aboard the museum? MCGAW: Exactly. We'll be open regularly during the day, close at 5:00, get set up, and the gates will open again at 7:30. And everyone in San Diego can come down and bring their chairs and blankets and set up on the flight deck and be a part of the ceremony. There will be a fee for parking. The port-operated parking lot on Navy pier, regular parking rates and policies apply. CAVANAUGH: Why did you decide to spotlight the Olympics in this way? This is the first time you've done this. You didn't do this for Beijing. MCGAW: No, we did not. CAVANAUGH: Why do this now? MCGAW: Interesting question. In terms of midway -- we've been here now eight years, which is hard to imagine, and we're to a point that we can become more of a community resource. Where there are opportunities for San Diegans to celebrate or a particular commemorative event, we want to become more of a community resource to give San Diegans and San Diego organizations an opportunity to celebrate, to commemorate. And we thought that the Olympics with the unique connection to San Diego was a perfect opportunity to do just that: Be a community resource, be something that San Diego families can be proud of. CAVANAUGH: And as we were thought chatting briefly before the show, it seems like the Olympics, the opening ceremony, the games themselves are the kinds of things that people like to see in a community setting rather than sitting home alone. I you can appreciate it more. MCGAW: I think you K. It's a social event not unlike the super bowl. You don't sit in front of the super bowl by yourself on the couch, but rather you share in the pressure, the anticipation, and for Friday night, the patriotism of seeing our country represented by these remarkable young men and women. It's really something that's to be shared. And what better place to share it than on the flight deck of midway? CAVANAUGH: Nic long is on the line with us, kind enough to go O give us some time this afternoon. He and some of his Olympic teammates will be on board the midway for this event. What kind of activities do you have planned? MCGAW: Well, thanks to the support of the Olympic training center, it's remarkability. The BMX Olympic team will be there to share stories, sign some autographs, and we're going to have an authentic Olympic porch where you can have your photo taken with the real deal. Our para-Olympian soccer team will be on the fight deck having a contest with the kids. The YMCA will be there in terms of things kids can participate in. It's an opportunity not just to watch but to participate. We're going to get a very up close and personal taste of what it's like to compete in the Olympics, and it's great that people like Nic are willing to share their valuable time with all of us on the flight deck of midway. CAVANAUGH: So Nic, why are you not in London yet? LONG: We have -- there's a track in London, obviously, that we'll be racing on. But to get the most efficient type of training we need to get done for racing, we have the rest of the track here, and it's the most ideal place to touch up our skills and finish up training before the actual event. We can't ride the Olympic track until our scheduled practices, which is like two days before our event. So we'd just be there doing nothing, doing gym work. So it's more ideal to skip out on the opening ceremonies and finish up training here and be in the best shape possible. CAVANAUGH: And of course you mean finish up training at the Olympic training center in Chula Vista. What day is your event on? LONG: I believe we practice a few days, like, maybe the 5th or 6th of August, then we race the 8th, 9th and 10th. CAVANAUGH: Okay. And for those who don't know what a BMX competition looks like, can you describe what you do? LONG: I could do my best. The easiest way for me to describe BMX racing is most people in San Diego have been to the San Diego supercross at Qualcomm. It's basically that but on a pedal bicycle. We race -- they start with usually around 20 riders at the start, all lined up together equally, and race for first place to the finish line wins. We start with eight people at a starting line, we come down a hill, whereas they start flat. And it's basically just first person to the finish line wins. CAVANAUGH: What has your training schedule been like in Chula Vista? LONG: We just -- we're past, like, the getting strong phase, and doing a lot of heavy gym work. Most of us are just sticking onto the track and touching up skills and making sure we could get through the track as soon as possible without making any mistakes. CAVANAUGH: Some of the other athletes who talked to reporters about training at the Olymp center in Chula Vista talk about a sense of support, a camaraderie there, it's a really great place. Have you felt that? LONG: Yeah, definitely. I've been in and out of here since 2008. And it's huge. There's a lot of support here, we know all the staff. They're always out here watching us on the track. It's a huge -- even in like the cafeteria, it's just a huge open seating area. So we sit amongst other athletes, archers, everyone. We all sit together, and most of us know each other by first name, and we always got each other's backs when we have events here at the training center. CAVANAUGH: Is there a sense of competition among athletes even in different sports? LONG: Not really. If we don't compete against each other, I don't see any reason that we would have a competitive feeling toward each other, I guess. CAVANAUGH: Right. So it's more support than anything else? LONG: Yeah, definitely. CAVANAUGH: BMX is pretty new to the Olympics, Nic. How many teams will be competing in London, do you know? LONG: I'm not sure of the actual numbers. I know there's going to be 32 men and 16 women. There's five countries, the top five countries in the world ranking have three men each, I think there's five countries with two men, and then there's a few countries with just one required. I'm not sure of the breakdown or the numbers. But it's a lot smaller than the world cups that we previously go to, and how we had to qualify for with the Olympics where you would show up to that and there would be 160 entries where you would do a time trial and qualify through and only 64 people would get to race. We're going to show up here and there's only 32 people max. CAVANAUGH: Right. Now I've got to ask this. Your tattoos have been commented on in publicity about the Olympics. But have you gotten any flack from the U.S. Olympic committee about them? LONG: Not so much flack. I mean -- to corporate America, it's a little unprofessional looking, I suppose. That's what people say. But I have -- I have one tattoo that I'm sure most people don't like whether you're corporate or not. I don't need to explain it, I guess. CAVANAUGH: Right. LONG: But yeah, there's a little bit of flack or grief given, I guess would be the right word. But it's just part of the sport. It's part of that action sports culture where it's bike riding, and that's how it's grownup to be, I guess. And I just kind of fell into that category, I suppose. CAVANAUGH: Right. Now, I want to move on because I know you talked about your tattoos a lot. So I want to talk about twitter. Even though it's down today, and a lot of people are upset about that, you can reach -- your fans can reach you directly through twitter. Have people within reaching out to you that way? LONG: Yeah, I've gotten a few good lucks and everything like that. I'm really bad at social media and keeping up with it and updating fans everything and like that. I don't know if it's because I just keep to myself. I'm pretty outspoken in person, but in social media, I kind of keep to myself. I try not to get in trouble. CAVANAUGH: What's your handle? LONG: It's just niclong64. CAVANAUGH: And N-I-C. LONG: Yeah. CAVANAUGH: And who are some of the other Olympic athletes at tomorrow's event? MCGAW: I really don't know. We haven't gotten the latest list from the folks at the training center. They're checking to see which of the archers can make it and so on. We've focused, thanks to Nic and his team, being our headliners. But I know there will be a number of other residents at training from who will be conducting the demonstrations and signing autographs. CAVANAUGH: Nic, when you go to events like at midway museum tomorrow, what do kids usually ask you about your sport? LONG: I don't know. Hold on, there's a lawn mower. CAVANAUGH: We can still hear you. LONG: I guess the type of people that I'm around when they ask questions are mostly BMX people. They kind of understand the sport. CAVANAUGH: Gotcha. LONG: But I guess I get questions like what you asked, like what is BMX. Most people think it's doing tricks and jumping as high as possible. We don't do that. We're mainly a speed sport. CAVANAUGH: Now, Scott, I have to ask you about the food that's going to be available at this event because it's a little unusual. Tell us about that. MCGAW: It is. It's certainly unusual for midway. Our great partner, the Fantele cafe will be providing food. But I can tell you it will be British style. Bangers and mash, that kind of thing. Our beverage service is looking to obtain some British beers. One of the dismays they're working on because the parent company of our cafe is a caterer at the Olympics, they're going to be working on a visual display to show people how many Hamburgers Michael Phelps eats at a given meal. And I'm told you are going to be amazed at the volume of food an Olympic athlete like Phelps consumes at that level of competition. CAVANAUGH: Now, I'm wondering how many people are expecting at this event? MCGAW: Well, that's the big question. It's free. There are no RSVPs. So we really don't know. If there's any benchmark, I suppose, we have recently begun having the parks and recreation department have their movie night on the flight deck. And that has now reached 1,200 people, which is a similar, free, family-style event. I wouldn't be surprised if we're north of 1,000 people by the time the broadcast starts at 7:30 tomorrow. CAVANAUGH: So basically the doors open at 6:30. MCGAW: Yes, and people should bring a light-weight lawn chair or camping chair and blanket if they like. Then we'll have some presentations, ceremonies, and demonstrations. So there'll be lots of things to do as soon as we open the gates and get that taken care of. Then we'll all be able to settle in once the broadcast starts at 7:30. Many of the activities will take place and continue throughout most of the evening so the kids can get up and do things during commercial breaks and so on. CAVANAUGH: Okay. And thank you both.
The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games is on Friday, and the USS Midway Museum has plans to celebrate.
It will host a free viewing party on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Scott McGaugh, the marketing director for the Midway, told KPBS they are holding the event because of San Diego's large presence in this year's games. A recent U-T San Diego story said the U.S. Olympic Team includes "80 athletes who either grew up here or currently live and train here."
“This is something for the entire community of San Diego to celebrate and honor San Diegans who are representing our country in the Olympics,” McGaugh told KPBS.
Some Olympic team members, like the BMX team, haven’t left for London yet, so they will be at the Midway ceremony.
Nic Long, a member of the BMX team who grew up in Lakeside, told KPBS Midday his team is staying in San Diego for as long as possible to make use of the BMX track at the Chula Vista Olympic Training Center.
“To get the most efficient type of training we need to get done for racing, we have the rest of the track here, and it's the most ideal place to touch up our skills and finish up training before the actual event," Long said. "We can't ride the Olympic track until our scheduled practices, which is like two days before our event. So we'd just be there doing nothing, doing gym work. So it's more ideal to skip out on the opening ceremonies and finish up training here and be in the best shape possible. “
In addition to BMX racers, the ceremony will also feature an authentic Olympic torch and British food.
“Bangers and mash is probably going to make its first ever appearance on the deck of the Midway,” McGaugh said.