Sept. 17, 2012
The University of Michigan was represented well at the 2012 London Olympics. Three current student-athletes competed at the Games, and MGoBlue.com caught up with each of them to recap their experience. The final entry in the three-part series focuses on senior men's gymnast Syque Caesar, who represented Team Bangladesh and competed on the parallel bars, on floor, and on high bar in the 2012 Olympic Games.
On the overall experience ... "It was awesome. I said before I left that there was a couple of things that I wanted to do, and one thing was to really take in the entire experience going to all the different venues, competing at the Olympic arena, the Olympic Village, the Olympic stadium and competing well. I did all of those things, so I'm extremely satisfied with my performance and I was able to take in the entire experience and it was absolutely unforgettable."
Q: Who was the most famous Olympian that you met?
"The most famous person I actually met -- like got to shake their hand -- was Tyson Gay. But, I know that in passing when I was walking out of the main dining hall Michael Phelps was walking in, and then in the main dining hall I also saw Ryan Lochte and I also saw Pau Gasol. That was pretty cool."
Q: What was your favorite non-gymnastics event that you attended?
"I got to go watch three-meter synchronized diving, which was really, really cool. The aquatics center was really fun and it was just a real cool arena to go into, it was really sweet. I also got to see some of the track and field, which was cool. I haven't actually been to any track and field competitions so going to the Olympics that was my first one and it was a really fun experience. In terms of the Olympic stadium I also got to sit right next to the Olympic flame and that was just overall a really good experience in there."
Q: What did you think of the Olympic opening ceremonies?
"That was absolutely amazing. Pretty much 99 percent of all male gymnasts do not do opening ceremonies, because we compete the next day. But I asked myself, how many times am I ever going to do this? This might be my only time. I decided to do the opening ceremonies walk and I found out that I was probably only one of two male gymnasts that did it, and the other one was holding a flag for Bulgaria so he had to go. It was sweet, I remember walking out there and just looking out into the stadium and seeing the entire crowd and all of the lights and then as I was walking out I looked up and saw the flag bearer of Bangladesh walking out first and then they showed my face on the screen so that was unbelievable and so much fun and cool. Immediately right after I did the walk I got all of these texts from all of my buddies back here and they sent me pictures from the live feed and stuff, so I was stoked."
Q: What was your favorite place to see in London?
"London is absolutely humongous in terms of not the athletic side of things and just London itself. I got to see Big Ben; I got to walk around Trafalgar Square. Even just a normal side street of London is just so different and so cool. You can walk around for hours and get lost. It was a completely fun experience, and Big Ben, the London Bridge, all of the usual touristy locations I went and saw were all really cool."
Q: Were there some other Olympians that you became friends with?
"The gymnastics community itself is small and at the Olympics it is even smaller. I know when I was done competing I got to hang out with a lot of the other male gymnasts, because they also finished the same day I did. There was a group of us, a random mix of people that were hanging out together. It was a gymnast from Austria; his name is Fabian Leimlehner, a guy from Hong Kong, a guy from Canada, and a guy from Ireland, and me, a guy from Bangladesh. It was a rag tag group of guys, but it was great we hung out basically every other day and stuff. We got to go out and it was fun, a good time. "
Q: Did you see fellow Michigan Olympians swimmer Connor Jaeger and gymnast Sam Mikulak much?
"I didn't see Connor (Jaeger) at all. I barely saw any swimmers actually. Basically when we first got there that first week the only athletes I saw in the Village were basically gymnasts. There were very few other athletes, because swimming started a lot later than we did. Though during our practice session, during our training sessions I saw Sam (Mikulak) a lot because we were in the same sub-division so we had the same training times. It was always my personal coach, Geoff (Corrigan), myself, Michigan head coach Kurt (Golder), and Sam would be in the same training session. Every day we trained up until my competition, I trained with him every day. That was pretty cool. Once I was done competing I didn't have to go to the training session anymore so after that moment I didn't get to see Sam all that much. I saw him every once in a while."
Q: Did you make many Michigan connections while in London?
"There was around 10,000 athletes in the Village so I didn't really see all that much. I did see Sam and (Michael) Phelps, but that was about it."
Q: Since being back from London have you been getting more recognition?
"It is yes and no. It is basically the same, but then randomly someone will come up to me and be like, holy crap, you went to the Olympics and all this stuff. It is a humbling experience. I don't have 1,000 more followers, but I did get a lot more followers on Twitter, and I did get a lot more friend requests on Facebook. I'm at a comfortable level. I was looking at Sam's Twitter and all of that and it is too much. He can't be comfortable posting stuff. He would get a tweet every minute and that is just ridiculous. My phone would explode and not be able to handle it. The amount of attention I got is perfectly fine with me and I'm happy about it. I'm fine and even before I left for the Olympics all of the pressure was put on Sam anyways so I was able to perform at my best. On the way back I feel like the same guy, but I'm now an Olympian so you can't be too mad about that."
Q: What has the reception been like back home in Bangladesh?
"It is great. My extended family still lives in Bangladesh and they are ecstatic and they are over the moon about it. They always talk to me and say they are so proud of me and all of that. My family back in Florida is also so happy for me. I'm happy that I was able to do what they wanted me to do."
Past Olympic Q&As
Connor Jaeger (Sept. 7)
Sam Mikulak (Sept. 11)