Blimey! London Olympics Open July 27

UC Riverside scholars weigh in on the history of the Olympic Games, the participation of Saudi women and the impact of social media

London bridge

The London Olympics begin July 27.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — With the start of the London Olympics less than two weeks away, scholars from the University of California, Riverside are available to talk about a variety of topics, such as the history of the Olympic Games, the use of social media, and the participation of women athletes from Saudi Arabia. The XXX Olympiad begins July 27 and continues through Aug. 12.

History of the Games

Thomas Scanlon, professor of Classics
(951) 827-1462

Scanlon has written many books and articles on the original Olympics held in Olympia, Greece, and sport in the ancient world. Some traditions of the ancient games set patterns that are still followed in the modern Olympics, the first of which was in 1896 in Athens. The Olympic torch, the notion of the amateur athlete, and the concept of gold, silver and bronze medals are all inventions of the modern games, he says.

Security: Video Surveillance

Amit Roy-Chowdhury, associate professor of electrical engineering
(951) 282-7515

Roy-Chowdhury is an expert on video surveillance and analysis, particularly as it relates to national and homeland security. He can talk about surveillance security at the Olympics. Earlier this year he co-authored a book, “Camera Networks: The Acquisition and Analysis of Videos over Wide Areas.”

Soccer, Gender and Sports

Jennifer Doyle, associate professor of English

Doyle writes a blog about the cultural aspects of soccer, “From a Left Wing,” and is available to discuss anything related to soccer, sports in general, and sports and gender. She is writing a book about the intersection of art and sports.

Saudi Women Athletes

Laila Lalami, associate professor of creative writing

Born and raised in Morocco, Lalami is an award-winning novelist and short-story writer. Her essays and opinion pieces have appeared in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, The Nation, the Guardian, and the New York Times. She is available to discuss the significance of women athletes from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the Middle East competing in the Olympics for the first time.

Social Media and the Olympics

Derek Burrill, associate professor of media and cultural studies

Burrill is available to discuss the use of social media in the London Games, from the IOC’s creation of official Twitter, Facebook and YouTube accounts to the strict rules imposed on Games participants with regard to tweeting, blogging and posting to social networks.

USA Volleyball Assistant Coach

Ron Larsen, UCR head volleyball coach

Larsen is an assistant coach for the USA Men’s Olympic Volleyball team. He was the top assistant coach with the USA Men’s Volleyball Team when they won the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Keeping Fit in Our Genes

Theodore Garland Jr., professor of biology
(951) 827-3524

Trained in comparative physiology and evolutionary biology, as well as quantitative genetics with emphasis on exercise physiology, Garland can talk about how wanting to keep fit is in our genes, capable of being passed on genetically from generation to generation, and how future medicine could promote our activity by targeting these genes — thus complicating how athletes will be judged for their performance at future Olympic Games.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-7847
Twitter: bettyemiller

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