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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?
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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