The following morning, all nine of us headed out the door, single-file like ducklings, to interview Sharriefah Barksdale, Events Manager for the U.S. Men and Women’s Track and Field. Although our credentials didn’t give us access to Olympic venues, we breezed right past security with Sharriefah’s ID into the Olympic Village, where the athletes stay.
She was a character, and we loved talking to her. Will got to interview her on camera, and we all watched from behind the scenes.
Sharriefah had told us that she would try to get us some face time with Tyson Gay, the world-famous sprinter from Lexington, Ky. Sure enough, five minutes later we saw him coming down the walk towards the Olympic Village. “Tyson! Get over here!” Sharriefah barked good-naturedly.
And that was how the world-famous Tyson Gay gave Lexington a special shout-out:
We were all about promoting Kentucky during our time in London. Since we go to school near Lexington, we had decided to do a segment on a local soda called Ale-8 found only in the Bluegrass state. We hit the streets, asking random passerby-s to taste it on camera. Surprisingly, many were willing:
And because Ale-8 had spent the money to ship the sodas over to England, we did some promotional pictures for them in front of iconic landmarks around London. Good thing I like Ale-8. That’s a lie. I don’t like it.
However, we weren't always working. My cousin Nick, who I had serendipitously ran into a few days before near Big Ben, was a big Arsenal soccer fan, so the next day we took a trip to visit the Emirates stadium, where they play.
Then we went to McDonald's and got free Olympic glasses with our meals. Needless to say, it was a day well-spent.
Then on Aug. 3, Cameron, Amy and I had the opportunity to go to watch women's volleyball at the Earl’s Court stadium. What we soon discovered upon arrival was that Olympic volleyball has not three games, but five. And so, we watched Turkey play South Korea for about three and a half hours.
The next teams to play were Great Britain vs. the Dominican Republic, but we had been there so long that after two sets we decided to head out (as did many others in the crowd). Nevertheless, it was so awesome to watch a live Olympic event.
After finishing off some articles that next morning, Hillary and I had the opportunity to go to a special theatre cabaret put on specifically for the press in the West End at The Hippodrome. We got to see performers from this season's biggest shows, such as "Billy Elliot," "Les Misérables," "WICKED," "Mamma Mia!," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Blood Brothers." It was so beautiful I almost teared up.
It didn’t hurt that Matthew Lewis was there, either (you know, Neville Longbottom from "Harry Potter"?), who will be performing in the new West End musical, “Our Boys.” I didn’t realize it was Matthew Lewis at first, and Hillary and I walked right past him into the Matcham Room before we looked at the program and realized it was him. Fortunately, Hillary was able to snap some pics:
Afterwards, I was able to interview Caro Newling, producer of the West End hit “Shrek: The Musical,” as well as the upcoming “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Wow, what an opportunity. Good thing I decided to straighten my hair that morning.
Afterwards, Hillary and I did some shopping in Piccadilly Circus, and then decided to take the bus to get back to Leytonstone (where our house was). We thought it would be an adventure and all that. We hopped on an iconic double-decker, adrenaline pumping through our veins; however, we soon realized that the bus stopped every 50 feet to let on new passengers. “Screw this,” we decided, and hopped off at the next stop. And that was Hillary’s and my bus adventure.
I never thought I’d say this, but as we boarded the tube after our little bus hiatus, I was relieved. I always want to write poetry or something deep like that on the Underground. Everything is very serene and strange--like a time capsule. The air is weirdly hot and you forget what time of day it is. Nowhere else exists, and neither do anyone else--especially not the people you're standing next to.