Aug. 7, 2012
LONDON - Tony Sandoval, director of track & field at Cal, is in London as coach of Golden Bear alumna Alysia Montano, who will compete in the opening round of the women's 800 meters Wednesday morning. Montano captured the 2007 NCAA title in the 800m while running at Cal. She is a four-time USA champion in the event and placed fourth at the World Championships last summer in Korea. Sandoval sat down with CalBears.com blogger Jenny Simon-O'Neill for a brief Q&A on the eve of Montano's opening race.
Jenny Simon-O'Neill: How has your experience been so far in London? Tony Sandoval: My London experience has been a little different. I have a different perspective in that I went to the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. Both of them are very special experiences. There's a lot of excitement with that. From what I experienced in Montreal, it was a lot easier to interact with athletes. To give an example, you could go down to the practice track and could watch all the athletes from the different countries working out. Here, there's so much security that the general public can't do that. Even me, as a coach, we had to have a separate track for USA Track & Field. I had to have a credential plus a security check. Everywhere you go, there's some kind of credentialing or security issue. It's kind of cumbersome in that regard. But the people here in London have been very accepting and friendly. When we get a little lost, there's not a problem. Getting on and off the buses and the tube is a little more complicated than BART, but you get the gist of it. They've done a great job having people out to help direct walking traffic throughout the city.
I was here in London two years ago with Alysia in a Diamond League race. It was at Crystal Palace, which is in south London. We didn't get to experience as much as we have here.
JSON: What was your role at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal? TS: In 1976, Barbara and I came as track & field fans. I was the head coach at the University of New Mexico. I didn't have any athletes, although we came really close in those years. It was easier for us to go then. It was certainly a lot cheaper. We drove to Montreal and stayed with family. Tickets were easy to get, and we went to a lot of different sports. We saw men's field hockey. We saw a soccer match. We went to a wrestling match. Obviously, we went to a lot of track & field and went with the Track & Field News tour, and they sat us with a lot of people from different countries. It was interesting to get other track nuts sitting together.
One of my favorite stories is that I brought some pins to be able to exchange with people, and I brought the New Mexico state flag. When people saw my flag, they asked me where I was from, and I said New Mexico. They said, `Yo hablo Espanol. I've been to your country.' I said, `wait a second, I speak English and New Mexico is a state in the United States of America!'
JSON: What does the prelim field look like for Wednesday's race?
I don't care who you are. There is the weight of the Olympics. Everybody knows about you. Everybody wants to talk to you. Everybody wants some bit of information. Not that it's bad, it's constant. It can cause you to be fatigued after a while.
What's it like to be here with a contingent of 46 Olympians from Cal?
JSON: Are you going to have any time to explore London while you are here?