the Olympics

Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

For Kendra Chambers, life is a constant workout. A former member of the UT track team, Chambers now works as a production assistant for the Longhorn Network, leads her own personal fitness group four days a week and drives to and from San Antonio almost every day to train for the Olympics.

Passionate about being the best that she can be in every aspect of her life, Chambers’ drive to compete in the Olympics comes not from the quest for fame — but from an internal want for accomplishment.

“When you want to do something the best that you can physically, there’s certain steps you have to take,” Chambers said. “For track and field, it comes with being on the world-class stage. I know if I’m in that setting, it will help push to max out my full potential.”

Chambers makes the daily drive to San Antonio in order to be trained by coach Rose Monday, the middle distance chair for USA Track & Field. 

“It’s great to be around the best of the best at what you do,” Chambers said. “We do a lot of workouts geared toward the 800 [meter] and the 1,500 [meter]. I’m learning a lot, and I’m excited.”

With the Olympics constantly on her mind, Chambers’ other dream of working for the Longhorn Network keeps her in Austin. A few months after graduating, an adviser suggested Chambers apply for an open position at the Longhorn Network.

“[He] remembered that I was really into Longhorn Network, and that’s ultimately what I wanted to do after I graduated,” Chambers said. “A position opened up, and he was like, ‘Would you like to come in and interview for it?’ and I was like, ‘Of course,’ and it kind of just went from there.”

It didn’t take long before Chambers realized she could use her own skills to help out fellow Longhorns. Chambers started her own training group, KC’s Fitness Crew, in order to access a larger amount of students and friends asking for her help.

“I created [KC’s Fitness Crew] after spending a month or two with friends [who] wanted me to help them work out,” Chambers said. “It evolved into other people wanting to come work out, and it just kind of snowballed into this.”

The fitness program has served as the perfect trial run for a future business venture, according to Chambers. When she is done competing, she plans to get her personal training certificate and pursue training on a more professional level.

Courtney Coleman, business and marketing senior and Chambers’ boyfriend, often attends or watches the fitness sessions. Coleman said Chambers’ motivation has made a positive impact on his life.

“Her motivational attitude was definitely one of the main things that attracted me to her,” Coleman said. “It helps me be the best that I can, and we help support each other in any way we can.”

Stacey-Ann Smith, former Texas athlete and one of Chambers’ best friends, said Chambers’ attitude helped her pursue her goals, too. Smith ran track at UT and lived with Chambers while they were students. Smith also spends her time pursuing a goal of competing in the Olympics while running her own physical boot camp.

“Kendra and I are go-getters,” Smith said. “We’re always trying to help other people, and we’re always trying to do things to better ourselves. I think the camp is something that’s helped us accomplish those things.”

Brazilian activists Andreia and Hamilton dos Santos discuss the impact of state violence on Brazil's black community. The talk they gave extends to police brutality and issues in the prison system. 

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

As Brazil prepares for the World Cup this summer and the Olympics in 2016, the country is doing its best to show the world an image of happy, healthy citizens — a far cry from life for the black majority, according to community activists Andreia Beatriz Silva dos Santos and Hamilton Borges dos Santos at a talk Friday.

Andreia and Hamilton dos Santos said racism is a pressing issue in Brazil, largely ignored and somewhat facilitated by the government, at the talk organized by the Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies and the Benson Center.

Kate Layton, a Latin American studies graduate student, translated the discussion from Portuguese to English.

Hamilton said while Brazil has made many economic strides, these new advances aren’t necessarily good for the people of Brazil. Hamilton said that while people now have access to consumer goods like cars and refrigerators, more important resources like health care and education are still unavailable.

“This development hasn’t changed the systems of inequality in Brazil,” Hamilton said. “This development has fortified the banks, system of credit, foreign companies and their exploitation of the country.”

Andreia dos Santos said the Brazilian government imposes many forms of oppression on black Brazilians.

“What they’re talking about here is a conjuncture of actions that have impeded four generations, and in many ways black folks, and she’s talking here of direct or indirect violence, the absence of the state and imprisonment, which has led to an eradication of a people,” Layton said. “Another factor, of course, is the absence of state and the absence of access to appropriate services like education [and] health.”

Christen Smith, assistant professor of anthropology and African and African diaspora studies, said being able to hear from people involved in this struggle is a rare occurrence because they barely ever get a chance to take a break to talk about their work.

“Both of them have a considerable history of action and struggle in the community that goes from organizing around questions of police brutality and of police violence all the way to organizing in the prison system,” Smith said.

Hamilton and Andreia dos Santos gave the talk in Portuguese — which was then translated into English by Kate Layton, a Latin American studies graduate student — and Hamilton said the main barrier to their campaign right now is language.

“[The purpose of this discussion is] to amplify the voice to these fights that are pretty anonymous and unknown in most parts of the world and to affirm the importance of this fight of being able to speak for ourselves,” Hamilton dos Santos said.

Kristian Ipsen, left, and Troy Dumais start a dive in the men’s 3-meter synchronized springboard final at the U.S. Olympic diving trials on June 22 in Federal Way, Wash. The pair won the event, and will join 14 additional divers from eight nations in search of a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, England. (Courtesy of the Associated Press)

A veteran on the diving board, Troy Dumais uses age and experience as an advantage when he steps up to the 3-meter platform to perform a dive.

The 32 year-old Texas alumni is one of the oldest competitors aiming to bring home a medal as he heads to London for his fourth consecutive Olympic Games.

Dumais is only the second American to qualify four times, but he is the first American to actually make the trip.

“It doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been to the Olympics,” Dumais said. “It’s the idea of the hard work.”

This past week, Dumais qualified at the US Olympic diving trials in Federal Way, Wash. Dumais, along with Stanford diver Kristian Ipsen, took first place in the synchronized 3-meter springboard event, narrowly edging out Longhorn Drew Livingston.

With the win, Dumais became one of the first Longhorns to qualify for the trip to London. Dumais also qualified for the individual 3-meter springboard event with a second place finish at the trials.

On the national level, Dumais has a vast collection of hardware from many Pan American Games, world cups, world championships and other national meets. For the Longhorns, Dumais was a seven-time individual NCAA Champion.

“Being a part of the Longhorn family is truly unique,” Dumais said. “And then to qualify for the Olympics representing and being Longhorn, that’s an even greater achievement.”

At his fourth games, Dumais hopes to live up to personal pressure and expectations and finally bring home a medal. Doing so would make him the first of his siblings to bring home an Olympic medal. Dumais is joined on the diving board by two brothers, Justin and Dwight. Justin, an Olympian from the 2004 games, is attempting to qualify for his second games while Dwight is hoping to qualify for his first.

“Growing up, I did watch the Olympics,” Dumais said. “I just wanted to be a part of it ... this will be my fourth one, and going for my fifth one to qualify and it doesn’t get easier, but still to this day I can’t even describe the feelings and emotions that are involved. There are no words.”

Even after 16 years of competing on the big stage, the meaning of it all still has not escaped Dumais. Over the past several decades, the United States has established itself as one of the perennial powers in the pool. In 2008, the US Olympic team came home with 31 medals, 12 of them gold. The last time the United States did not lead the medal count was in 1988, when it was edged out by East Germany.

“Representing Team USA — you’re the top 1 percent of athletes in the United States,” Dumais said. “It’s an amazing feat. Just to wear the colors and be with the other top athlete — that’s their goal, that’s their dream and the atmosphere it creates is a phenomenal feat.”

So after so many years, how does he do it?

“It’s all mental,” Dumais said. “I mean if you walk up on the board knowing that you are going to do everything fine, chances are you’re going to do everything fine. There are just trillions and trillions of things that could go wrong and you have to have the utmost confidence.”

Jimmy Feigen is the one to watch in Omaha this week. As one of the fastest freestyle sprinters in the world, Feigen is a favorite to earn a trip to London during this week’s U.S. Olympic trials.

This past season Feigen established himself as a premier swimmer after coming home from the 2012 NCAA Championships with two individual championships and a first place relay finish. After three years of finishing in the top five, Feigen finally finished first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 19.01 seconds and first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 41.95 seconds.

With two individual crowns on his resume, Feigen is aiming for something a little bit bigger ­— a spot in London to compete against the best from around the world and a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.

“Jimmy is probably one of the most talented swimmers in USA swimming right now. He has a great stroke and great talent,” said Ricky Berens, former Longhorn teammate. “He hates to lose. He’s very focused and internally motivated. He’s a huge asset for UT and hopefully will be at the Olympics for Team USA.”

Feigen’s solid senior season will be a huge advantage as he competes in Omaha. As a freshman in 2008, Feigen took a shot at a trip to Beijing, but was not able to make it out of prelims in his two events. He finished 28th in the 50-yard and 40th in the 100-yard freestyle events that year.

“I knew that 2008 wasn’t going to be my year, but I’ve been looking forward to 2012 my whole life,” Feigen said.

Feigen will compete for a chance to represent the United States in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events in addition to a possible relay spot. The Olympic races are considered long course races, which are done in meters, as opposed to the short course races, done in yards, seen at the NCAA Championships.

This won’t be the first time that Feigen has competed for the United States. He finished second in the 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle events at the 2011 ConocoPhillips National Championships. At the 2011 World University Games in China, Feigen took home golds in the 100-yard freestyle and the 400-yard freestyle relay. He currently holds a spot on the U.S. National Team.

“You can never turn down an opportunity to put on a USA cap and represent America,” Feigen said of competing for the United States. “It meant a lot to wear the USA cap. It was absolutely fantastic. It was a really humbling experience, to say the least, but also a totally fulfilling and wonderful experience.”

Feigen also holds the American record in the 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay and the 200-yard medley relay, and he’s a 17-time All-American.

At Texas, Feigen holds five school records in the 50- and 100-yard freestyle, 200- and 400-yard freestyle relays, and 200-yard medley relay. Feigen was on the 2010 Longhorn squad that were crowned NCAA Champions.

Feigen’s major competition in the pool this week includes former University of California Golden Bear Nathan Adrian. In addition to also having individual NCAA championships in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events, Adrian currently holds the U.S. record for both freestyle event lengths. He will be competing for his second trip to the Olympics and another medal to go with his 400-meter relay gold from Beijing.

But Feigen won’t let Adrian, or anyone else, get in the way.

Earlier this summer, Feigen beat one of the best swimmers in American history, Michael Phelps, at the Longhorn Aquatics Elite Invite. Feigen won the 100-meter freestyle event with a time of 48.63, a personal best, while Phelps clocked in at 49.05.

“I live for the pressure and will embrace it come trials,” Feigen said. “[I] will move the earth to accomplish my dreams.”

Parvathy Prem, left, and Vinay Pandey, right, of the Association for India’s Development stage a Die-In in front of the Peter T. Flawn Academic Center Friday afternoon to symbolize the victims of the Bhopal disaster.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

Volunteers from the Association for India’s Development laid down under white shrouds next to the West Mall on Friday to urge students to sign a petition to remove the Dow Chemical Company from sponsoring the 2012 London Olympics.

A gas leak more than 27 years ago in Bhopal, India killed an estimated 20,000 people, and survivors and human rights groups are fighting for Dow to take responsibility for the leak, volunteer and engineering graduate student Parvathy Prem said. Members of AID laid down under the shrouds to represent the bodies the gas leak left behind.

The disaster in Bhopal occurred the night of Dec. 2, 1984 at a plant owned by Union Carbide and caused thousands of deaths and far more injuries. The leak released 27 tons of methyl isocyanate gas.

In 2001 Dow bought Union Carbide, and it is now a fully owned subsidiary, Prem said. She said according to India and U.S. law, when a company acquires another, it attains both their assets and their liabilities, but Dow continues to claim they are not responsible for the effects of the gas leak.

“What’s even worse is that the factory site was never cleaned up,” Prem said. “There are still around 350 tons of toxic waste leaching into the ground.”

The 2012 Olympics is set to have Dow as a major sponsor and will cover the entire stadium with a white banner displaying the red Dow logo, Prem said.

“It sends the completely wrong message, when you have a company that has been declared a fugitive from justice and refuses to do what is the legally and morally right thing as a sponsor for an event like the Olympics,” Prem said. “It’s massively damaging to everything the Olympics stand for and sends the wrong message about corporate responsibility to other companies all across the world.”

The goal is to acquire enough signatures to approach current and former UT Olympians and urge them to issue a statement asserting their opposition toward Dow’s involvement in the Olympics, said Vinay Pandey, who sits on the advisory board for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

“The whole theory behind the Olympics is to uphold spirit, steadfastness and righteousness, and this is completely against any of these three principles,” volunteer and electrical engineering freshman Manav Mandhani said.

Representatives of Dow did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Pandey said children continue to be born with deformities and nearly 150,000 people are still suffering congenital and mental illnesses and neurological,
respiration and sight problems.

In 2006 Student Government and the Graduate Student Assembly passed a resolution calling on the University to refuse to accept funds received from Dow, but President William Powers Jr. did not sign it, Pandey said.

“One of the things this university stands for is freedom,” Prem said. “We know what the truth is and because the University receives a certain amount of money from Dow, [the University is] refusing to take a stand. I think the University’s official stand directly contradicts the values it claims to stand for.”

Printed on Monday, December 5th, 2011 as: Group aims to remove Dow sponsorship