The world anxiously awaited the announcement of vaunted Team LeConte, which will duel with the athletes from Nowhere in Particular, a skilled contingent hoping to come home with many medals. Team LeConte marched in the Parade of Teams as "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" blared through the speakers. Noted international designer Gildan provided the stylish outfits for Team LeConte. If you look at the tag of your 2012 LeConte shirt, you may find yourself wearing Gildan, too. There were no doves to release (this being a national park and all), but we did notice some bats flying around early this morning. Tickets for the Opening Ceremony of the LeConte Games, attended by a rabid crowd of nine people, were selling for as much as 3 cents.
In the middle of his 911th hike to LeConte, Dave Scanlon provided the highlight of the Opening Ceremony when he lit the LeConte flame. In the next couple of days, we'll follow the triumphs and frustrations of Team LeConte as it attempts to write an impressive chapter in the history of sport.
Now, back to reality, I did want to congratulate my friend and former colleague from the University of Tennessee, Justin Gatlin, on winning a bronze medal Sunday in the 100-meter dash in the 2012 Olympic Games in London (only slightly more prestigious than the LeConte Games). The 2004 Olympic gold-medal winner in the 100 meters in Athens, Justin ran the 100 in 9.79 seconds last night in London--the fastest time ever by an American at the Olympics. World-record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica won the gold medal with a 9.63 steamer.
Since I headed the media relations effort for the UT men's track and field team in those years, I was Justin's first publicist when he arrived at Tennessee as a talented freshman. I helped teach him the ins and outs of media interviews. He was a natural and one of the most friendly athletes with whom I worked. In the Knoxville News Sentinel, Mike Griffith reported that Justin offered up a "Go Vols" before he left the Olympic press conference following the race to crown the world's fastest human. Seven billion people in the world, and he's the third fastest.
"I just wanted to get on that podium and be there for my country," Gatlin said. "All of the people in the stands with flags. They are there for us, I wanted to be there for them." He's a delightful person who's persevered through a rough patch of years, and I'm happy for him. Anyone who has climbed LeConte can appreciate perseverance.
Finally, we experienced a noteworthy day on the weather front, as well, Sunday. While we enjoyed a nice first half of the day Sunday, we endured a frog-strangling downpour before and during supper. I knew the rain came hard and fast, but even I was surprised to see we received a whopping 3.64 inches of rain Sunday at LeConte Lodge. Unofficially, that's the wettest day of 2012 for us. Our temperature topped out at 70 degrees and slid to a low of 56. It's already raining this afternoon, so be careful with a slick trail and creek crossings if you're coming up to see us on LeConte.