- The following is Dan Medernach's account of his time at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. He attended the Games with one of his sons, Connor, who graduated this year from Marmion Academy.
Connor and I were at the Olympics the last two weeks. The trip came about in 2009 after talking to my college roommates who live in London; they put us up for the two weeks. I have attended both the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1996 Atlanta Games.
The trip was a trip of a lifetime and a great way to spend two weeks with my son before he heads off to college this fall.
We attended two sessions of beach volleyball in the historic Horse Guards Parade. We had the opportunity to see two of the USA teams play—the 2008 gold medalists Rogers and Dalhausser and women's 2012 silver medalists Ross and Kessy.
We spent two sessions in the aquatic center where, by chance, we sat next to Michael Phelps’ mother and two sisters. We were there to witness Phelps’ last individual gold medal of his Olympic career. Other highlights of the aquatic center were Missy Franklin setting a world record to win the 200-meter backstroke for her third gold medal and Katie Ledecky, 15, winning the gold in the 800 free.
We caught two sessions of basketball; one men's and one women's. For the women's session, we saw the USA team handle Angola easily; the team was led by Candice Parker, a former Naperville player.
We found out early on that the NBC Today Show was the best place to get pictures and autographs from the USA medalists. The show was live each afternoon from noon until 3 p.m. We made our way there three of the days.
Connor has been an avid swimmer since he was 5 and wanted to see as many of the swimmers as possible. The cast and crew of the Today Show could not have been any nicer.
Finally, our trip ended with what the Brits were calling “Super Saturday”—a day when the most medals were awarded. They were fanatics at the stadium that evening.
Within 44 minutes, Team Great Britain won three gold medals. Ennis won the heptathlon, Farah the 10,000 meters, and Rutherford won the long jump. The 80,000 fans were going crazy.
To our surprise, Paul McCartney was sitting 10 seats away from us and as the stadium was waiting for the medal ceremony for Ennis, the stadium broke into a chorus of All You Need is Love.
London was in great form as they welcomed spectators from around the world. We managed to get some days of sightseeing in while we were there.
Medernach's Today Show Sign Gets Phones Ringing
During one of the Today Show live broadcasts, Dan Medernach stood behind a sign that said "Batavia Illinois." The sign might have been small, but the response to it was big, according to Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke.
Schielke said his office fielded several calls, one from as far as New Jersey, asking who the Batavia man was on the Today Show. City officials were not sure who the man was prior to this Patch report.
Some of the callers wondered if there was an athlete from Batavia that was competing in the games, Schielke said.
Schielke knows from experience that being in the Today Show audience can go viral quickly. During a trip to New York City, he and his wife were led into an area for an outside taping of the show. The camera panned to them and soon Schielke's office was receiving phone calls and out-of-town emails asking about his TV appearance.
"When you get on that level, you get so much exposure … I'm sure there was hundreds of people in town that saw them on there," he said of the Medernachs.