Stan Lisowski remembers being at home watching American gymnast Shannon Miller on the balance beam at the 1998 Summer Olympics in Atlanta on television with his daughter Olivia, 4, on his lap.
Olivia said, “Daddy, I want to do that.”
Local providers of Olympic-associated sports are gearing up for post-Games interest by adding classes and using the Olympics in advertising.
The Olympics will be hard to miss from the Opening Ceremonies 7:30 p.m. Friday to the end of the Closing Ceremonies 3:30 a.m. Aug. 13 on WCAU-TV 10 and WMGM-TV 40.
There’s a free NBC Olympics mobile and tablet app and a NBC Olympics mobile website is at available at www.nbc-olympics.com. Cable, satellite or telephone company subscribers can access an NBC Olympics “Live Extra” application offering live video streams and full replays for all 302 events across all 32 sports.
Lisowski involved his daughter in gymnastics and is grateful for what the sport brought into both their lives.
He met his wife, Kim, through gymnastics. They opened the Extreme Gymnastics center in Cedar Run, Stafford Township. Depending on how the women’s gymnastics team does in London, Extreme Gymnastics is readying itself for increased interest by having enough classes available and making sure the staff is fully trained on all aspects of everything done on the floor.
“It’s been a 16-year ride that I couldn’t be any more grateful for,” Lisowski said.
As the operator of a gymnastics facility, Lisowski hopes southern New Jersey parents react to the upcoming Summer Olympics in London the same way he did to the 1998 Games.
A great deal of Olympic-themed advertising, including fliers and a Facebook page, is in the works at the Dynamo Gymnastics Training Center in Galloway Township.
Dynamo has already been receiving calls for new signups for the fall — before the Olympics even start — from parents who watched the Visa Championships in June and the Olympics Trials for gymnastics June 28 to July 1, said Maryanne Black, who owns Dynamo with her husband, Chris.
The Blacks will refurbish their lobby and use the time right after the Olympics for a grand reopening.
The entrance will be repainted and all the new awards Dynamo team members have won and accomplished will hang on the walls. Four girls won plaques at the state championships during the last weekend in May in Wildwood, and one girl won two gold medals on floor exercise and beam at a national competition in Florida.
Abigail Biddulph, 13, of Galloway Township, won the two gold medals in Florida. Biddulph watched the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games when was she was 9 and already involved with gymnastics. She remembers the U.S. women’s gymnastics team winning the silver medal.
“I thought it was interesting. It made me want to be at that level,” said Biddulph about watching the Olympics four year ago.
Robin Taylor, the head coach of the Brigantine Greenheads swimming team, said she will watch as much as she can of the Olympics live. What she doesn’t see live, she will see by recording it.
“For me, it’s like the Super Bowl coming once every four years,” said Taylor, who has been involved with swimming for 35 years.
David Wakeley, head coach of the Atlantic City Aquatic Club, said his club will add an extra learn-to-swim program to its schedule to handle possible rising interest due to the Olympics.
“Some of those kids who would have started (during the last Summer Olympics), would be 11 and 12 right now, and we have a very good 11- and 12-age group,” said Wakeley, 51, a Galloway Township resident. “What ended up happening was, we ran a learn-to-swim program, and we added somewhere between 50 and 80 kids to the program.”
Tim Athill Sr., coach of the Pleasantville Track Club, believes the upcoming Olympics has helped him already. Athill, an Absecon resident, had 80 signups for this summer.
The last Summer Olympics inspired and brought out in his high school students a desire to improve in track and field and become an Olympian.
“When you graduate, sometimes, when kids go to college, they don’t want to run. After watching the Olympics, they chase the dream,” said Athill, 57. “We have a local athlete, Nia Ali. She started chasing that dream. She made the Olympics Trials finals this year.”
Stephen Del Monte is the owner of DelMo Sports, the company that produces the ninth annual Tri the Wildwoods Triathlon & 5K on Aug. 18 in North Wildwood and the second annual Atlantic City International Triathlon on Sept. 15 in Atlantic City. The triathlon has been an Olympic sport since 2000, and it was plugging along at a steady rate before then, Del Monte said.
“In 2000 in Sydney ... they (Australia) added triathlon. It was televised, and it literally exploded across the world,” Del Monte said.
“When people are sitting there, they are inspired. They see it on television, and they will see it in November when the Ironman (Triathlon) is on TV. Friends will start talking about it. You will definitely see a spike in numbers. There is no question about it,” said Del Monte, 35.
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