Peter Vanderkaay (2003-06)
July 13, 2012
University of Michigan director of athletics Dave Brandon will regularly offer his view on a variety of topics related to U-M and intercollegiate sports. All his posts, along with links to related content, will be available on his page, mgoblue.com/brandon, and he is also on Twitter at @DaveBrandonAD.
There is something special about the Olympics.
The supreme pageantry of the occasion, the feeling of patriotic pride, the tradition of the games that date back to 1896 and the ideal of the Olympic spirit that takes us back to ancient Greece.
This international event brings together competitors from countries all over the world. It is a celebration of athleticism and dedication to sports and country. The inspiring stories and the resulting drama create a reality media event that grips sports fans worldwide.
For the University of Michigan, the Olympics are also special. Since 1900, a total of 211 Michigan students and coaches have participated in the Summer and Winter Olympic Games, representing the United States and 23 other countries.
For the summer games, U-M has been represented in each competition that has taken place since 1900. Even in 1980, when the United States boycotted the summer games in Moscow, four Wolverine student-athletes represented their countries -- Puerto Rico, Ireland, Trinidad and Greece.
In just a few days, the University of Michigan contingent of athletes, coaches, athletic trainers and support staff will be representing their countries and the Wolverines.
For most of these individuals, this is the pinnacle of competition in their sport. This is their Super Bowl. This is their dream.
They are not there because of that dream or the fact they were exceptionally talented. They had to train and work to become Olympians.
Much of this training came during their time at Michigan. They relied heavily on the variety of resources they had available in Ann Arbor. The coaching and training they received was imperative to their success.
We again have great representation at the Olympics, but it is not the time to rest on our laurels. We need to improve.
To support our athletes in the best fashion and to help them succeed on the national and the international stage, we need to invest in our Olympic sports facilities like never before.
While six of the 24 men on the United States' swimming team roster will be Michigan Men, the Canham Natatorium needs to be improved.
In 1924, Ferry Field was the site of the Midwest trials for the United States track team. Today Michigan's outdoor track cannot even host the Big Ten Championships.
Other Olympic sports facilities need major upgrades or even new training and competition sites.
Our new state-of-the-art Bahna Wrestling Center is a perfect example of what we need for so many more of our sports and what it can do for the sport itself. Michigan athletes are using this facility for NCAA training purposes. In addition, other wrestlers are coming here to train for international competition just because of this facility.
Not only will this type of support and facilities help the University of Michigan remain a strong force in international competition, but it will be an important aspect for our Olympic sports' future success in NCAA and Big Ten Conference competition as well.
Providing support for our male and female student-athletes is vital to our future success. We want athletes from across the nation and around the world to know that the University of Michigan has the best of the best when it comes to facilities, training and coaching.
Congratulations to everyone who will be competing, coaching and working at the 2012 London Olympics. We promise, we will all be watching.
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