GUEST COLUMN: 5 ways you can experience Rio 2016 right here in Olympic City USA
As chief communications officer for the city of Colorado Springs, I appreciated the letter to the editor on Monday, July 18, recognizing the incredible Olympic and Paralympic events that happen right here in our community. While the local awareness may not be high, the quality of competition, the levels of accomplishment and the ideals are extremely lofty.
And they're headquartered here - in "Olympic City USA."
No other city in the nation can claim the title of Olympic City USA. We are proud of our 4-decade-long relationship with the Olympic Committee and inspired by the more than 10,000 elite athletes who train here each year.
In fact, 48 of the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center's resident athletes will represent Team USA at the Olympic or Paralympic Games in Rio this summer.
We'll also send 15 Fort Carson- based soldiers to Rio as members of Team USA. That's no small feat.
The USOC has long been bringing incredible events to our city, and we want to be sure our residents take advantage of this unique asset. Many did Friday, when the men's Olympic gymnastics team put on an incredible show for the over-capacity crowd in Sports Center II.
Imagine, an 8-year-old gymnast having the chance to watch Chris Brooks practice his Olympic routine; a teenager getting a glimpse at the best wheelchair basketball players in the world; a first-grader developing an Olympic dream while watching cyclists at the Olympic Training Center Velodrome in Memorial Park. All of those things can and do happen in Colorado Springs.
As the Olympic Games draw near, Olympic City USA is primed to explode into a celebration of Olympic spirit. It's time to celebrate being Olympic City USA.
Here are five ways you can experience the Olympics right here in the 719.
1. Attend the Downtown Celebration with 10,000 of your neighbors:
On Aug. 5, all are invited to the free Olympic Downtown Celebration to watch the opening of the Olympic Games. There will be dancers, aerialists, autographs, a torch relay, music and more. While 43 of our residents will compete there, hundreds of our professionals will work to support them as trainers, managers, coaches and more. Colorado Springs is the team behind the team. And with more than 10,000 people expected to rally on Tejon Street that night, we will show it.
2. Honk if you love Team USA: Businesses and community groups across the city will be out in force during the morning commute and lunch hour on Aug. 4-5, waving flags, holding signs and reminding you to come to the Downtown Celebration and cheer for Team USA.
3. Tune in: Keep up to date with the happenings in Olympic City USA by following us on Twitter and Facebook at @OlympicCityUSA, or visit www.olympiccityusa.com. We'll keep you updated on the journeys of our athletes and residents in Rio, the unique assets right here in Colorado Springs and the ideals that inspire us all. We'll also continue to post public events at the training center and around town as they are scheduled.
4. See where they train: If you haven't been to the U.S. Olympic Training Center lately, go. The tour is a "can't miss" event right here in town.
5. If you're flying COS, keep your eyes peeled: Hundreds of representatives of Team USA - athletes, coaches, staff - will fly out of Colorado Springs Airport over the next two weeks on their way to Rio de Janeiro. If you see someone decked out in red, white and blue, there's a good chance they're en route. Wish them luck and let them know we'll be cheering them on here at home.
Thank you, Colorado Springs, for embracing the movement! See you at www.facebook.com/Olympic CityUSA.
Jamie Fabos is chief communications officer for the city of Colorado Springs.