Day 14: Colorado Springs

By Billy Mason

Today began with another relatively early start with the bus to Colorado Springs leaving the UNC campus at 6am. The first stop along the way was the US Olympic Training Centre which is used to house and train the top 10 to 15% of national athletes across a number of sports. If selected to live on campus at the USOC, the athlete will have all accommodation, food and training fees covered by the centre. This is a large financial cost which is covered through 80% of sponsorship arrangements, with the other other 20% through donations. The USOC is not funded by the government in any way and therefore is quite impressive to see the facilities and services they offer. We also had a chance to see some of the athletes use these facilities.

The next stop was the Garden of the Gods. This area of Colorado Springs is made up of different rock faces, formations and boulders. The area was pretty highly populated with tourists and even attracted a few rock climbers that were looking to climb some of the larger rock faces. This was a lot of fun as we all got a chance to run, jump, and climb along the different rocks which provided many photo opportunities. The Garden of the Gods was donated to the city of Colorado Springs by the children of Charles Elliott Perkins in 1909, who fulfilled his wish that the area remain free to the public. We visited two areas of the garden which were separated by a short drive and a small lunch break.

The final stop before getting back on the bus for UNC was the Air Force Academy. Here we were taken on a tour of the academy’s sporting facilities which were without a doubt the most impressive collaboration of sporting facilities I have seen. There was not an area or sport that was neglected within this complex with the highlight for me being the new $16m indoor training facility. Combine this with facilities to cater for water polo, diving, swimming, boxing, gymnastics, ice hockey, wrestling and basketball and more and you have an expensive and impressive facility. While we were there, a number of students were there on a training camp which meant that most of the facilities were in use which was also pretty cool to see.

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