The Olympic Games begin with opening ceremonies in London on Friday.
DeWitt’s Jordyn Wieber will compete for a gymnastics Gold Medal beginning on Sunday. Over the next three days, we’ll have several stories looking at the excitement that’s building around her quest for a medal.
Sportswriter Joe Rexrode of the Lansing State Journal will be in London to write about the Games. This will be his first Olympics.
Rexrode told WKAR’s Scott Pohl that his coverage will extend beyond the Jordyn Wieber story.
JOE REXRODE: I think that definitely is a contributing factor, although I’m actually going for Gannett, which owns my newspaper. I will do a lot of things besides Jordyn Wieber. I think, certainly, it was attractive to our company to have someone from the local paper cover such a prominent athlete. I will be definitely there for everything Jordyn Wieber does; maybe not the shopping in London if she gets any free time at all after she’s done competing, but while she’s competing, in between days, I’ll be all over that, and I’ll probably do some men’s gymnastics too, because it just makes sense logistically. I’m going to be at the facility. I’ll be doing a lot of other things for various papers in our chain, also.
SCOTT POHL: Some of that will be exclusive to the Lansing State Journal though?
REXRODE: Yeah. In fact, one thing that we came up with that would be just ours is I’m going to talk with Ryan Wieber, her older brother, and he’s going to do sort of a daily diary for us, give us an idea of what the family’s going through, what are you guys seeing in London, his perspective on Jordyn’s competition. I’ll probably write some opinion columns on things.
I’m a little nervous about writing gymnastics “gamers”. I can do football and basketball, but I don’t want to mess up the scoring, that kind of stuff. I’ll definitely be leaning on some of the gymnastics veterans while I’m over there.
Understanding how gymnastics is judged
POHL: I was going to ask you how much you know about gymnastics, because as an observer, I can’t tell why one performance gets a tenth of a point more than another.
POHL: So, I was wondering if your coverage was going to be more before and after, as opposed to during.
REXRODE: I have to get more informed. I’ve been working on that. Actually, I spent about an hour talking with Kathy Klages the other day, and she helped me a lot. I’m like hey, teach me gymnastics real fast, you know?
POHL: The MSU gymnastics coach.
REXRODE: The MSU gymnastics coach, who was great. I think I’m the classic American gymnastics watcher. It’s every four years, I watch every minute of it. I think gymnastics in the summer and figure skating in the Winter Olympics, that’s the most compelling stuff about the Olympics. I always have. Mary Lou Retton? I remember that vividly. Kerri Strug and Dominique Dawes! It’s every four years, and then you sort of tune it out. Of course, it used to be a different scoring system; it used to go up to 10, and it was kind of easy to figure out. It’s a little more complicated now, and it’s hard for me to look at it and say oh yes, clearly that routine or that move was more difficult than the other one, because that’s a big thing now, your level of difficulty and how you execute it. I’m trying to learn because I want to be able to describe what happened and why.
POHL: Will you be at the opening ceremonies or closing ceremonies?
REXRODE: I believe so. I’ll be there for both. I hope they let me in, yeah! I’m excited about Paul McCartney, you know?
Rexrode lists his "dream" Olympic events
POHL: Any dream events that you hope to get to, even only as a fan if nothing else?
REXRODE: I would love to watch some track and field, I’d love to watch some swimming, and I’d love to watch some basketball too, some dream team basketball. That credential gets me in anywhere, so whenever I have free time, I’m going to try to get to some of these events. Actually, I’m really hoping somehow I’m assigned to cover some tennis, because I would love to see Wimbledon.
POHL: Sounds exciting!
REXRODE: It is very exciting. I’m excited, obviously, to be able to experience this, but I’m also excited because I think this story…I helped cover the Michigan State (men’s basketball) national championship of 2000, and I’ve been trying to talk to people who’ve been around here a long time…how would this story compare? How would Jordyn Wieber compare as an athlete from this area? I think this is the biggest story of my career, covering Jordyn Wieber and her quest to win a gold medal, because I really do think that the Olympics draws in, nationally and internationally, a lot of people who normally don’t follow sports. It really does transcend sports in some ways. So, I’m very excited about being a part of that story and being able to help chronicle it.