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Violating Sanctions

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The London Logs: High School Homeboy Hits the Olympics!

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | August 7th, 2012 | Comments No Comments

Once you hit 50 and are coaching an athlete who represents the US in the Olympics, is it all downhill from here?
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Laughing, my high school buddy Alex Conti, takes off his collector-item sneakers and shrugs his shoulders. Alex teaches phys ed at our old high school and has coached women wrestlers as a volunteer with the US Women’s Junior World Team.100_0181.jpg

“I’m looking to the 2016 Olympics. There’s one girl I’m coaching now who can make it. Plus, it’s in Rio!” he breaks out in a huge grin.

Alex has traveled around the world – first as a competitive wrestler himself, when he traveled to Baghdad in 1980 as a high school senior, then as a Women’s Junior World Team coach to Ecuador, Belarus, Russia and Romania.

He’s an assistant coach to the US Olympics Women’s Wrestling Team (I didn’t know there was a US Olympics women’s wrestling team!), and to Clarissa Chun specifically. She competes on Wednesday at 1:00, but I can’t figure out how to get a ticket. The Olympics web site is a jumble and there are a lot of complaints about how ticket sales have been handled. Recently, TV camera shots of competing athletes catch whole sections of primo empty seats when Brits have tried for over a year to purchase tickets. Tickets were recently given to British soldiers, so now those cameras catch bored, lanky uniformed guys texting.

But, back to Alex. After our misconnect last weekend, I suggest we meet at Stratford, where the Olympic Village is. I figure it’s a place Alex knows. I didn’t bank on there being 2 entirely separate Tube exits, and – naturally – we are at opposite ends. I finally figure it out, and find Alex waiting patiently. Who’s dumb idea was it to meet at the world’s busiest public transportation outlet???

We decide to pub-crawl around Covent Garden. We catch up on Fredonia (NY) gossip, Olympic gossip, London gossip and life-after-50 gossip. It’s at the second pub that the shoes come off as he explains only a few hundred were made. “And you’re wearing them?!” I chastise, as I photograph them, realizing this might be as close to the Olympics as I get.

[Update on Aug 8: Clarissa Chun, the athlete Alex coached, won the Olympic Bronze Medal!!!]
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Category: London, Olympics
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