I spent the morning today at a press event for a handful of Lenovo’s athlete bloggers all talking about their experience of blogging during the Olympics. The three participants we had were Peter Lopez (a Peruvian Tae Kwon Do athlete), Carissa Gump (an American weightlifter), and Seth Kelsey (an American fencer). The event was slightly formal for a blogger event as it was based around a conference table, but getting these athletes into a room together to talk about their shared experiences was really fun to watch. Along the way in this event and through other conversations I’ve had with athletes, I picked up on several observations that only an athlete would know. Here are a few:

  1. Technology is a big topic of discussion – If you are a tech geek like me, then you probably saw the Fast Company cover article on how technology is changing the Olympics. What you might not realize is just how big of a topic of conversation this is among most athletes. In past games, the big topic seemed to be doping and drugs and whether certain types of supplements should be considered "drugs" for how they can enhance performance. While that topic hasn’t disappeared, in these games it seems technology is the new drug.
  2. Blogs get you more interviews – Of the athletes that I spoke to with blogs, they raved about how much media the blog manages to get for them and their sport. The reason is simple … blogs are easy to find. If you were a journalist with a crazy deadline and high pressure expectations to produce lots of stories every day out of the Olympics, wouldn’t you want someone to make your job easier? Athletes with a blog are easier to find, have linkable content, often have photos that can be reused alongside an article, and most importantly, they are accessible over email or through commenting. A word to aspiring Olympians: athlete’s with blogs get more media.
  3. Skype is the killer app – Lenovo may be the ones providing the iLounge and access to the Internet, but it is Skype that is keeping athletes connected with their families back home. As I walked around the iLounge taking a quick look at the sites that athletes were looking at (no, I didn’t go undercover), many were using Skype. It seemed by far to be the most popular site (along with web based email sites) for the athletes.
  4. Travelling is a pain in the *ss – FOr many athletes, the gear they need to carry makes life in airports and on the road really tough. Imagine if you have a tough time at the airport with your bags what a fencer, or javelin thrower or hockey player needs to deal with. When we arrived at the Beijing airport, the US Baseball team was on the same flight and their bags took even longer than ours. So next time you find yourself complaining about your baggage delay, just sit back and imagine you were in an equestrian event and had to check in a horse. Enough said.

There are others I’ll share in future posts, but time is short and I’m off to upload a few more videos and photos.