Bay Area residents will participate in Olympic ceremonies

Posted by the San Jose Mercury News June 25, 2012.

By Molly Vorwerck

Although the upcoming Summer Olympics are being held in London, individuals from around the world, including at least five from the Bay Area, are participating in the ceremonies.

As performers and torchbearers, these Californians will contribute to the games, even if they’re not throwing a discus or swimming laps in the pool.

Audrey Rumsby, 21, of San Jose, will play the harp and portray an acrobat in a circuslike tribute to the athletes during the Olympic and Paralympic Team Welcome Ceremonies in mid-July at the Olympic Village.

Rumsby was chosen to perform with the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain in a “promenade spectacle” that will feature live music, puppetry, acrobatics and poetry. The rotating cast will perform 75 30-minute shows from July 16 to July 26 for 204 Olympic teams. Two weeks later, they will perform the same shows for 170 Paralympic teams.

Rumsby, a dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom, is a recent graduate of the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. For the performance in the Olympic Village, the National Youth Theatre’s director, Paul Roseby, assembled a cast of 140 actors. Rumsby said she’s the only American chosen.

Barbara Rumsby, Audrey’s mother, said her daughter’s part in the Olympics serves as a source of pride for their entire family.

“Of course, we’re very excited for her,” she said. “It’s an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so it’s very exciting for all of us.”

Other Bay Area individuals involved with the London Olympics are torchbearers Cynthia Guevara, 25, and David Wang, 28, both graduates of San Jose State University and employees of The Crowne Plaza Hotel, San Jose/Silicon Valley.

The torch relay, which began on May 19 in Land’s End, England, will pass through 1,019 communities in the British Isles. Guevara and Wang are among the 8,000 torchbearers. Both will carry the torch on July 2 through Coventry, England, a borough about 95 miles northwest of London.

Since Crowne Plaza Hotels are owned by the InterContinental Hotels Group, a partner of the Olympic Games, the company was able to nominate 72 employees to carry the torch. Guevara and Wang were chosen for their frequent volunteerism. Guevara, who is anemic, donates blood and builds homes for impoverished families in the Philippines. Wang volunteers at the Second Harvest Food Bank and spearheads a soap recycling program at the hotel.

Guevara said that both of them were apprehensive about the potential physical challenges of running with the torch but were relieved when they discovered that each torchbearer only jogs less than a quarter mile.

“In our heads, we’d been like ‘oh my gosh, we’ve gotta train!'” Guevara said. “I can’t even run a mile, but luckily, its only .2 miles.”

According to Wang, though the torch bearing experience goes by quickly, it will be something he remembers his whole life, down to the standardized uniform.

“We have official uniforms,” Wang said. “They give us a run through, and that’s it. … They put you on the spot and you stand there until the next guy comes and lights your torch and you take off till you [reach] the next person.”

In addition to Guevara and Wang, Sarah Williams, 19, of Pleasanton, and Kylan Nieh, 19, of Fremont, also will serve as torchbearers. Williams and Nieh were selected through the Coca-Cola Co., which chose 22 people from across the country who have left positive impacts on their communities to participate in the relay

Wang, who is taking his wife and 2-year-old daughter to Coventry with him, is equally excited about the torch relay and his first trip to Europe.

“I’m excited about just being in a different country, but [also for] having a reason for being there, and being recognized,” Wang said. “It’ll be fun.”

Contact Molly Vorwerck at 408-920-5064.