EmilyBlog – Athlete Soup

By Emily Ridlington, Sports Media Canada Special Correspondent and International Olympic Committee Young Reporter

Singapore – Maybe it’s the sudden and drastic temperature change going from the Canadian Arctic to 45°C — don’t get me wrong I am enjoying it, but this journalist has a stuffy nose. I all I want is a bowl of hot soup.

No slight head cold will stop me from working. I’m downing the liquids, have a pocket full of Kleenex and am getting on with it.

I need to explain my accommodations while I am here as they are quite unique. I and the other Young Reporters are staying right in the Olympic Village. This is the first time in Olympic history journalists have had such unprecedented access to the athletes in their sphere. The entire Argentinean delegation is in my building as well as many Russian athletes.

Annie Tagoe, Great Britain

I know British runner Annie Tagoe always wears a full face of make-up whether she is on her morning jog competing in the girls’ 100-metre race. There is a certain Aussie swimmer who always puts ranch salad dressing on toast. And yes I have witnessed this several times.

Not having covered a traditional Olympic Games before I don’t know how it would compare but I feel that by staying in the village I’ll have a better personal understanding of what athletes are going through.

There is then the question of ethics and respecting the athlete’s space and privacy. Conducting an interview in the laundry room of the residence or snapping a photo of an athlete while he or she chows down on an immense bowl of pasta I feel may be taking it too far.

What is useful and is a great learning experience is interacting and talking to the athletes, not as an athlete to a journalist, but from person to person. For many of these young people, it may be their first time at an international competition and their first trip out of their country. The automatic question asked of me is “Where are you from and what sport are you competing in?”

While I’m flattered, I explain I am part of the IOC Young Reporter Program and that I’m not that much older than them at 23. All the responses have been positive and I get questioned as to how I got to this point in my career. To me, it seems like so far, I’ve just dabbled in journalism — but for these athletes, I suppose the mere fact I have started my professional career is a feat in itself. They will be in my position in a couple of years’ time.

It is exchanges like these which I value most. The end of almost every conversation ends with the request for a pin. This is how I met an Egyptian equestrian who told me he had been searching for a Canadian pin. He then told me how he only had three days to bond with his horse and — that he wants to study at a university abroad, in engineering.

I could spend my entire day talking to athletes, but there is a bowl of soup calling my name which hopefully should clear my sinuses and satisfy my tummy.