Every day during the Olympics, SIOC will feature an Olympian who's also a college student. Today, San Deigo Community College sophomore and USA sailor Graham Biehl chats about surf-boards, half-pipes and pirated DVDs.
This interview was conducted before Olympic competition began. Graham finished 13th in the men's double-handed dinghy 470 final.
Name: Graham Biehl
School: San Diego Community College
Year: Will re-enroll in the fall as a sophomore
Major: Interested in marketing, Web design or graphic design
Olympic event: Sailing -- Men's 470
Hometown: Point Loma, San Diego
What is the best part of being in the Olympics?
Just telling everyone that you get to go to the Olympics. Everyone's just floored when you say that.
How'd you get your start in your sport?
My parents got me involved because they're both pretty active sailors. They were taking me out as soon as I was born. I started taking lessons when I was about six.
Do you have any superstitions or good luck charms?
No, I don't really do any of that.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I hope I'm still doing Olympic sailing, but by then I hope to have a medal. I see myself doing the Olympics stuff for a while here.
If you could take part in any Olympic sport besides your own, what would it be?
Snowboarding, half-pipe. I've done it a few times. I grew up surfing and skateboarding around Point Loma because that's the culture. I've never picked snowboarding up fully because it's hard when you're right by the beach, but it's something I'd like to do at some point.
What's your favorite kind of Chinese food, and how much of it are you planning on eating while you're in Beijing?
Everyone's been asking me that. But the Chinese food we get over there is so different than what we have here. For the most part I've stayed away from the Chinese food in China. I'm just scared of getting sick from it. We eat Italian and Western food when we're there. But for Americanized Chinese food, I'd say orange chicken and some egg drop soup.
Is there anything you're hoping to see/do in China?
I just got back from my second trip there last week. I think it would be really cool to go see the Great Wall, but I don't think we quite have the time to do something like that. Maybe I can find some time before the Games and organize a trip over there.
What's your proudest accomplishment in your sport thus far, besides making it to Beijing?
I think representing the U.S. in the Youth World's two times was a pretty big accomplishment. I was sailing in the 420 class and the U.S. has a huge qualifying event for that, so doing that two years in a row was very difficult. The other thing I'm very proud of is winning a snipe junior world championship event in 2003. That was very cool.
How is an Olympic athlete treated on campus?
Well, all my friends had an Olympic send-off party, but they more or less treat me the same. They're just interested in how everything's going and how China is. But they treat me the same, which is great, because I don't want to be treated like a superstar by the people I grew up with. We all treat each other the same, which is really great.
I also have some friends who just finished at UC Irvine, and they were on the water polo team and they're the total opposite. They tell everyone they know an Olympian and try to use it for all it's worth.
Better uniform: your school's or Team USA?
Team USA by far ... we didn't have a school uniform.
What are three movies, TV shows or bands you can't live without?
A TV show I'm really into is Rob and Big. Movies, just general action movies. There's a cheap, pirated DVD store we all go to in China so it's easy to go get them there whenever we run out. Music, I don't know, I've gotten so much more new music lately I can't even pin-point a specific band.
Who is your favorite professional athlete?
My favorite thing is to watch all the top athletes in every sport just to watch them play, from soccer to baseball to football to even moto-racing, it's a lot of fun to watch the top guys do their thing.
Do you have any hobbies besides your sport?
I'd consider surfing a pretty good hobby, although I've been a little bummed, I haven't been able to do it for almost six months now because I haven't been home. I went out a few days ago for the first time and it felt so nice and so good.
If you win a medal, what will you do with it?
I haven't even thought about it. I'm a little more modest in my ways, so I'll probably just keep it at home and let my name speak for itself. I don't feel like I need to take it around and show it off. It's pretty prized, I wouldn't want to wear it around and risk losing it. The Beijing ones looks pretty cool, they're pretty unique.