bleedCrimson.net will be conducting interviews with Aggie women's track and field head coach Orin Richburg throughout the 2008 season as Coach Richburg builds the Aggie track and field program. In part two of this week's interview Coach Richburg talks about what it means to be named to the 2008 Olympic staff, his experience in Athens in 2004 and interaction between the Olympic teams.
bc.net: Can you talk a little bit about what it means personally what it means to be named to the '08 Olympic staff and the opportunity it gives you?
OR: Again, you're nominated and selected by your peers so it's a great honor for me to be able to go in 2008 as a part of the Olympic team and I also was part of the 2004 Olympic staff. It's a great honor when you can be selected to go back to back, it's an honor that a lot of people don't have the opportunity [to get]. I look at it as, you're chosen by your peers and when you're chosen by your peers it means that a lot of the people you know and a lot of the people you've been in contact with have a lot of confidence in you and what you do as a coach. I've been very fortunate, this will by my second Olympics to represent the United States, it's a great honor for me as a coach and as a person and I'm not saying this brings any recognition to the university but it gives me the opportunity to represent the country as well as the university that I'm working for and that is NMSU. I feel privileged and proud that I have this opportunity to go and walk out in front of 100,000 people at the Olympic games. You can't imagine the feeling that you get when you're coming out and all those people are cheering USA and you have on that uniform and coming out and just being a part of that.
That's something that all athletes want to try and make an Olympic team and all coaches want to try and be part of that. I wasn't fortunate enough to make an Olympic team [as an athlete] even though I was ranked 6th in the world in my event when I was running, three of the [top] guys in my particular event were from the United States so I was not able to make an Olympic team as an athlete but I've been able to represent my country as a coach. It's an honor and something that you just can't explain. But an honor that's bestowed upon you by your peers and so it's something that you always cherish and always feel proud that you were chosen to do this.
bc.net: Can you talk about your previous experience in 2004 being able to go back to Athens, the birthplace of the Olympics. A lot of the track and field events were held at the Ancient Stadium in Olympia. Can you talk about the experience of being able to visit a place like that?
OR: In 1997 I went back, we had the World Championships in Athens. We had the opening ceremonies at the old Olympic Stadium which is the old square stadium, just going into that facility gives you goosebumps. It's something you look at in history books, something that you might see that you would never imagine you'd have the opportunity to go there and be part of that. We had the opportunity to sit there and go through an opening ceremony there and a few years back they had athletes come in to do old Olympic events like a 200m run or a shotput or a stone throw. I also had the opportunity to watch the marathon at the World Championships that year start out and then finish in that stadium. Again, things that you read about never think that you'd have the opportunity to go there. I also had the opportunity to go back two years ago for the World Cup which was held in Athens so I've had an opportunity to go into the city and see the ruins and all the historical glory of the city. So you have an opportunity to walk around the city and go see things that you read about in history books, I've been very fortunate and very pleased that I was presented with that opportunity. It's something that we as athletes and coaches and general sports fans, if we get the opportunity it's something that we cherish for the rest of our lives.
bc.net: The U.S. National softball team is going to be playing an exhibition against the NMSU softball team, how much interaction is there between the athletes from the different sports when they go over to the competition?
OR: They put us all in the same locale as far as location and we'll have our track and field area and swimmers will have their area and the softball will have their area. The uniqueness about the softball team is, John Rittman who is an NMSU grad, is one of the coaches for the softball team and John was at the University of Washington when I was there and he's the head coach at Stanford. Through the Pan Am games and some of the other venues because I've traveled with all of our Pan Am teams throughout the last four or five years and John has always been with our national teams. I'm looking forward to seeing John when he comes in for the game that we'll play against the National team and I saw John this past summer in Rio de Janeiro because our National team was there and had an opportunity to talk with him quite a bit because he and I go back to our days at UW. He indicated that he was a baseball player at NMSU and when he read that I had gotten the job he gave me a call and gave me all the ins and outs of the university and how proud he is to be a graduate of NMSU and now he has the opportunity to come back. I'm planning to go out and make sure that I get a chance to reminisce a bit, I've had the opportunity to talk with some of the players on their team so there's a bit of interaction between the athletes from the different teams. They're all focused on what they're doing because they have one common goal and that's to win a medal for the United States and the softball team has been very successful in terms of doing that.
There's quite a bit of camaraderie between athletes, they all know that they've earned the right to represent their country.