Olympic experts comment on games



By Grant Labriola

Olympic torches and memorabilia littered The M.I. King Library lobby Tuesday as two Olympic aficionados shared their stories of the historic games.

UK alumnus and Olympic announcer Tom Hammond and CEO of two Olympic Festivals and memorabilia collector Jack Kelly spoke to a crowd of about 20 people on the Olympic events they’ve covered and attended.

Hammond spoke of the incredible athleticism shown at the Olympics and the heart and soul put into the games. Covering different events opened his mind to enjoying different sports, he said.

After his coverage of the Olympic women’s figure skating event in the Vancouver  Games, he said it is by far the toughest event an athlete could excel in.

“There is no one rebounding for you, it’s just you and the ice,” Hammond said. “Most will only get one shot at it.”

Hammond also spoke about Joannie Rochette, the Olympic figure skater whose mother passed away two days before her performance. Rochette decided her mother would still want her to compete after many had told her she shouldn’t.  Hammond said the event brought 14,000 people to their feet.

“Everyone was silent as she took the ice,” he said about the emotional night Rochette performed. “When she took her bow there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.”

The emotions contributed to Hammond’s awareness of his enjoyment of covering the events.

Everything from T-shirts to books to Olympic torches were on display at the speech as part of Kelly’s extensive collection. Kelly said collecting is a major part of his life.

“Acquiring something used by an Olympic athlete has always been really special to me,” Kelly said. “I’ve always been a collector, since my childhood baseball card collection.”

Kelly urged those in attendance to attend events like the Olympics, World Equestrian Games and sporting events in general, because each event could be one of a kind.

Kelly also had some advice for those who decide to attend such events.

“Grab a permanent memory and take it home, even if it’s something small,” he said.