Aug. 25, 2004

Greetings from the Olympics,
I am living a dream. Anyone who lives their life through sport has a warm place in their heart for the Olympics. The Olympic spirit unites the world momentarily for friendly international competition regardless of politics, religion, gender or sport. The spotlight shines equally on all competitors and the growth of television coverage has made the focus on personal stories extremely special.

The Greek countryside is beautiful, the people are warm and friendly, the food is amazing and the venues are absolutely gorgeous! Thus far, everything has moved smoothly and I continue to be amazed by the logistics of coordinating an event of this magnitude.

The IBC (International Broadcast Center) has been my home for nearly three weeks now. It is a large warehouse space that houses all television transmissions. NBC is the largest single entity and has one-third of the structure. Everyone here loves sports and enjoys the long hours and the enormous undertaking of producing 70 hours of programming a day on seven networks. The synergy is what keeps everyone awake.

The women’s soccer games have been fantastic with the U.S. women advancing to the gold medal game in storybook fashion. Defending world champion Germany was not strong enough to overpower the Americans for a second semifinal victory in less than nine months. World power China saw an uncharacteristic early exit. It is obvious that the gap between the best and the rest has closed in the last nine months. Brazil advanced to its first-ever final in a major world tournament.

This Olympic experience had been a whirlwind of excitement, hard work and challenges. Talking soccer every day and breaking down video are regular parts of my daily routine this time of year, but analyzing and critiquing the world’s best has been an honor.

I hope everyone enjoys the medal rounds as this might be the last time to see the pioneers of women’s soccer: Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Joy Fawcett, Brandi Chastain, Kristine Lilly and Brianna Scurry. Many have announced their retirements, while others are contemplating. Their contributions as ambassadors, role models and pioneers have set the standards for women’s soccer around the world for nearly 17 years. It is only fitting that the Olympics will be their time to pass the torch to the next generation.

Go USA and Go BUCKS!
Lori Walker