An Olympic Odyssey

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Courtney Smyth of The Reporters’ Academy

In the weeks, months and years leading up to the London Olympics there was so much that went unseen behind the Games. The journeys of the athletes in the lead up to London, in particular, were all unique and diverse. Every athlete had a different story to tell. These tales are now in print and “Oceania, An Odyssey to the Olympic Games”, was launched on April 17th. The evening began with a traditional Fijian ceremony. The cava ceremony was a real highlight as the narrator explained the process from the mixing of the cava to the drinking of it by the evening’s chief, IOC member Kevan Gosper.

The people of the Reporters’ Academy proudly created this collection of stories. They young crew created the written pieces and the directors, Glyn McGuire and Katy Atkinson, assembled it. Editor and student at Uclan University, Lorna Hargreaves edited these chapters and her efforts were celebrated. A special thank you also went out to Dr Robin Mitchell for his endorsement and support of the project, and Dennis Miller for coming up with the concept and liasing with The Reporters’ Academy.

Without the athletes, however, there would be no book; no journeys to share with the world. Their roles and generous time after the Olympics were vital in assisting the crew to tell their stories.

The stories expose a range of subjects. They delve into the collaboration of the Pacific nations in London, the ups and downs leading up to and at the Olympics and individual stories; covering the hardships and triumphs of the athletes.

This week the ONOC General Assembly has taken place at the Sheraton and Westin Resorts. Here, the teams who make the Olympics possible for athletes all across Oceania all gathered, ready for the launch.

Dennis Miller spoke about how the project began, how the relationship was formed between the Oceania National Olympic Committees and the North West of England, helping to prepare athletes for the Games. The program was successful and they had a desire to document the accounts.

International Olympic Committee member, Kevan Gosper, expressed his great love of the Pacific region, and in particular Fiji where he had his first encounter with Pacific culture.

Courtney Smyth, author of one of the stories and Reporters’ Academy crew member, said that she was taken on a journey of her own as the told the one of Leslie Copeland. She followed his ride all the way from the run down National Stadium in Suva to his incredible feat across the other side of the world; his performance at the London Olympic Games.

Copeland, along with Lauren McLeod, Vanuatu Volleyball coach, were two influential sporting figures who were present at the event and represented all the athletes who inspired the stories.  They signed each copy of the book as they were distributed to conference delegates.

This book, a token of the Pacific pride, will soon be available worldwide. From July it will be available on Amazon, electronically for an iPad or Kindle and in bookstores. It is a chance for the Pacific to share their behind the scenes stories, journeys and incredible culture with an international audience. Everyone who reads the book will be inspired by their determination and often incredible resilience to achieve sporting success.