Inside the Olympic Games with Sarah Lewis

Sarah, The first edition of the FIS Newsflash appeared on 15th December 2004 and today it celebrates its 400th edition with nearly 10,000 subscribers. The official weekly newsletter was introduced following the 2004 FIS Congress in Miami (USA) to serve as the main source of information about current activities and future initiatives shaping the world of FIS and its member associations.

Since today’s 400th edition coincides with Sarah Lewis’ presence at the London 2012 Olympic Summer Games, the FIS Newsflash used this occasion to invite the FIS Secretary General speak about its history, whilst putting her in the role of a reporter providing inside news from the Olympic Games in her home country.

FIS Newsflash: You have followed the Newsflash since day one. How would you describe its history and progress throughout the years?

Sarah Lewis: “The FIS Newsflash has undoubtedly become the primary source of current information about FIS and National Associations, as well as reports on activities, the latest news and features on members, athletes, personalities and partners. During the course of the seven and a half years since the first edition was published, I have supported the editor and contributors by reviewing the final draft each and every week prior to its distribution in order to check the content as well as the English. Sometimes it has been a logistical challenge to arrange the review if I am on an airplane, at an event with limited access to e-mail or when I am in different time zones, but somehow we have always found a solution – thanks to very mobile communication!

The new presentation of the Newsflash, launched for this 400th edition, signifies the fourth design change since its beginning. Over the years the content has evolved from being primarily competition reports to focusing on news and features, in order to provide further insight into FIS and the member National Associations, notably about things not covered in the media. With regular news provided in the FIS Newsflash, this has enabled the FIS Bulletin to take on the form of a Yearbook, reviewing the past season and looking ahead to the upcoming one.”

FIS Newsflash: With your broad experience in monitoring the FIS Newsflash, you can be considered a specialist in providing news from the international sports arena. If you were a reporter in the London Olympic Games, who would be the first person you would interview and why?

Sarah Lewis: “Sebastian Coe, Chairman of the London 2012 Organising Committee would undoubtedly be top of the list. The untiring work he and the LOCOG team have done to prepare and deliver the Games in one of the world’s busiest cities has proved to be outstanding. He was one of the finest athletes in history and the ethos of the Organising Committee has focused around sport at the heart of the Games, which is in his dna.”

FIS Newsflash: You have grown up in the cultural hub of London. Outside the competition venues, which areas of London would you visit to provide readers with a glimpse of “real“ Olympic fan spirit?

Sarah Lewis: “The Cycling road race, time trial and Triathlon competitions in the centre of London saw unbelievable scenes with fans lining every part of the courses with crowds of up to 30 persons deep cheering on the athletes. This gave many persons the chance to see a competition live, without charge, and experience the spirit of these Games. In the Olympic Park, a Live Site for public viewing was installed to provide an opportunity for many additional persons without tickets to the competitions to enter the Park, soak up the atmosphere and visit non-competition facilities, as well as follow action from many different sports on giant screens. It appears that parks not only in London, but all over the country have embraced the Olympic fever with viewing areas set up as well as the screens and televisions in the pubs also tuned into follow London 2012.”

FIS Newsflash: On Sunday, British tennis player Andy Murray beat Swiss Roger Federer in the Olympic tennis final, a remarkable moment for Great Britain. From a British angle, what other sporting highlights would you report on?

Sarah Lewis: “It is impossible to mention all the sporting highlights so far for the British athletes in this article since there are far too many, but even with the number of gold and total medals from Beijing 2008 surpassed on day 11 of 16, there have been disappointments for some athletes who were expected to make the podium, whilst there have also been surprise winners and medallists.

The special performances have to include Bradley Wiggins winning the Cycling time trial after becoming the first ever British winner of the Tour de France just over one week earlier. Super Saturday in the Athletics stadium saw Jess Ennis claim the Heptathlon gold in style, Greg Rutherford win the long jump and Mo Farah’s magnificent victory in the 10,000 meters all in the space of one incredible hour. Another special story was Katherine Grainger taking gold in the Rowing pairs having won four consecutive silver medals since 2000, with the rowers claiming nine medals in 14 events. In the Triathlon the Brownlee brothers stormed to gold and bronze, whilst the Equestrian team have won two team gold medals and a silver so far.

The Gymnastics men’s team won bronze for the first time in 100 years and two male individual medals followed, as well as bronze for Beth Tweddle who has led the rise of the sport in Britain. British multi-medallists have also withstood the great pressure of competing in a home Olympics with Ben Ainslee claiming his 4th Olympic Sailing gold medal and Chris Hoy who pedalled to his 5th and 6th Olympic gold medals on the Cycling track making him the British gold medal record holder. And there have been many more outstanding performances and medals not mentioned here, not to mention the fact there are another five competition days with the possibility of more medals – such as in Boxing, where there are five finals with British boxers.”

FIS Newsflash: On Sunday 12th July, the Olympic flame will be put out and light up the winter sports landscape on 7th February 2014 in Sochi (RUS). FIS Newsflash will be reporting on the progress for the next Olympic Winter Games. Has Sochi been gearing themselves up during the London 2012 Games?

Sarah Lewis: “Sochi 2014 has been actively present in London with many persons from the Organising Committee seconded to the work at the London 2012 Games, thus gaining hands on experience. Additionally Sochi Park has been a great attraction with displays and information about the Games in Russia, including an Ice Skating show in the middle of summer. The International Winter Sports Federations took the opportunity of meeting with the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee in London, primarily to discuss the test events that will take place next winter. It is only just over 18 months until the Olympic Winter Games will take centre stage in Sochi, Russia and the excitement is really building.” —- FIS

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