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Former olympian’s view on Vancouver

Sam Stryker | Thursday, February 25, 2010

Now more than halfway through the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, one Notre Dame student has a unique appreciation for what these athletes go through.

Kelley Hurley, a senior on the fencing team, competed in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. For her, watching the Olympics has taken on a whole new meaning.

“I realize how hard it is to qualify and I respect how hard they have been training,” she said.

Hurley said in addition to the newfound respect she has for the athletes, watching the Games has brought out a competitive edge in her.

“I get this rush when I watch them, that I want to get out there and do it again,” she said.
Hurley said despite the fact the Games occur every four years, for most athletes the year leading up to the Olympics is really crucial in qualifying, regardless of whether they participated in the last games.

“I still have to go through the same qualification process,” she said. “The year before is the most important.” 

Hurley said these qualifying rounds can get awkward, considering American teammates are competing against one another for Olympic roster spots.

“It is awkward how all the Americans are competing against one another. We’re supposed to be cheering everyone on, but sometimes you want your opponent to fall flat on their face,” she said.

Hurley said outside of the athletic competition and network coverage, athletes are able to kick back and relax in private areas such as arcades. She said mealtimes were especially rewarding.

“The dining hall is really cool because there are all these countries in one dining hall. It is funny seeing France eating at one table and Germany eating at another,” she said.

Another special experience for Hurley and the other Olympic athletes was their close proximity to international sports stars in the same venues.

“A lot of athletes go and watch other athletes compete,” she said.

Although Hurley said she was not able to find the time to attend other sporting events, the opening ceremonies provided a time to meet some of those famous stars.

“I met most of the basketball team, including Kobe Bryant, who were right behind us in the Opening Ceremony,” Hurley said. “Dwight Howard was pretending to be Kobe’s bodyguard.”

For Hurley, watching the Vancouver Games has fueled memories of Beijing and inspired her for London’s 2012 Summer Olympics.

“I really enjoy watching the Olympics,” she said. “It’s getting me all pumped.”