Volume 74, Number 43 | March 02 - 08, 2005

Olympian dives into city’s bid to win 2012 Games

By Zachary Roy

Scott Donie, an Olympic medallist and New York University diving coach, is serving on the NYC2012 board of directors and he is a member of the organization’s Circle of Olympians.

For the past six years, Donie, 36, has been promoting New York City’s bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.

A 1992 and 1996 United States Olympian, Donie was the silver medallist in the 10-meter platform dive at the ’92 Games in Barcelona, Spain. He currently lives on the Upper East Side and has coached the N.Y.U. diving team since 2001.

On Feb. 24, the day after the conclusion of the International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission’s visit to New York, The Villager spoke with Donie about the city’s bid and his role in the process.

“I’ve been involved from the very start,” Donie said of his connection with NYC2012. “I got involved six years ago when it was just a very small group of people trying to get the bid started. At that time I was living in Astoria, Queens, and that’s where the original proposed site for the swimming and diving was going to be. Somebody from NYC2012 contacted me and that’s when I first learned about New York City’s bid for the Olympics. They asked if I might be interested in helping out. I was totally interested from the start and I remain interested through today.”

More than 1,800 Olympians and Paralympians are involved in the Circle of Olympians, according to Donie.

“If we win the bid to host the Olympics, we also host the Paralympics [for disabled athletes] immediately following, which is a huge event in itself,” he noted. “And so there’s all manner of Olympians on that group. Bill Bradley, Bob Beaman, Donna De Varona [and] all the most recent Olympians that we just saw. Actually, only a small percentage of them have connections with New York. There are international Olympians in the Circle of Olympians and people from all over the world — anyone who supports the Olympics coming to New York.”

Donie has done everything from visiting local schools and talking about the Olympics, to pitching it at local board meetings. He also hosted the U.S. Evaluation Committee when they came here when New York was competing against other American cities.

“I hosted the swimming and diving site for the Evaluation Committee, and the committee chose New York in 2002,” he said. I’ve made appearances at City Hall. I’ve talked to groups of real estate developers. Anything that NYC2012 has asked of me.”

Donie said he doesn’t mind spending all the time and energy he has to bringing the Olympics to New York.

“It’s been kind of a labor of love, something that I really believe in, so I really don’t consider it as work,” he said. “It’s really an honor just to be a part of it.”

Donie says he’s always loved New York. Growing up in Somerset, N.J., when he was an 11-year-old he used to come in and train at Columbia University.

“When I talk to groups of people, I talk about how it’s a shame that the Olympics have never been in New York,” he said. “New York City is where everybody comes to fulfill their dreams, and that’s what the Olympics are all about. The two Olympics that I’ve been to, something happens in the air, with the people, and across the world, where everything gets put aside and everything stops. The two weeks when the Olympics go on is a magical time. It brings people together. New York has been doing that forever, and the Olympics has been doing that since it began, so it’s really a natural connection. It has got to happen.”

During the recent visit of the International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission, Donie played a role.

“I attended the media reception that was Sunday evening [Feb. 20] at the Rainbow Room,” he recalled. “And last night I attended the reception and the special performance that NYC2012 held for the commission at Lincoln Center. But, I didn’t have any specific tasks for this visit. For this visit, they brought out the real heavy-hitters like Billie Jean King, Donna De Varona and Bob Beaman.”

The Lincoln Center festivities offered the committee a sampling of what New York has to offer.

“The event was spectacular,” Donie said. “It was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen. There were amazing performances by Parson’s Dance Company and New York City Ballet. They had Wynton Marsalis do a performance. They showed clips of the most famous movies filmed in New York. And all this was being introduced by Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, Barbara Walters — really well-known New Yorkers, people who live in New York who support the bid. And then at the end of it, they dropped the curtain on this whole stage to reveal this huge window that had all of New York City right there. Night had fallen and you could see Central Park and fireworks were going off and the Broadway singers were singing ‘New York, New York.’ It was unbelievable. And then right there a giant NYC2012 banner came down. It was awesome and it was just like New York — totally over the top in a good way.”

He said New York can offer things that other candidate cities — London, Madrid, Moscow and Paris — can’t.

“We’re the most diverse city in the world. I think we’d have a hometown rooting section for everyone,” Donie said. “People who come from all over the world will have places in New York where they can get their food cooked just like it is at home. They’ll have people who speak their language. We also have the best security for large-scale events in the world. We have the most hotel rooms. We have the most centrally located Olympic Village that will have all the venues within a certain radius that is closer than it’s ever been done in any Olympics ever.”

While a seemingly daunting task, the transporting of so many people within the city during the Games is definitely doable, Donie said.

“The plan they’ve come up with is pretty brilliant,” he said. “It’s called the Olympic X Plan. The Olympic Village is at the center of what they’re calling the Olympic X. And the venues are located along a north-south axis that will be accessible to ferries and an east-west axis that will be accessible to a rail line that will just be for Olympic participators — athletes, coaches and officials. More than 90 percent of all of the transportation will take place on that. So it won’t even be causing any traffic for the Olympians. And the spectators will be using New York City transit, which is one of the best metropolitan transit systems in the world.”

As for swimming and diving, Donie’s area of expertise, the site has been switched from Astoria to the waterfront in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“They have that planned, but I don’t think the actual construction or design would start until after the bid is received, which is in July,” he noted. “It will probably be an outdoor facility that would then be converted into an indoor facility, because of where it is and it gets so cold here. It will be part of the great legacy of so many facilities for all the future children of New York in every sport — equestrian, swimming, diving, track, fencing, boxing, you name it — new venues, new places to have training programs for all the future Olympians.”

If New York is selected in July to host the 2012 Games, Donie will be ready to do whatever is asked of him next, though he doesn’t know what that may be.

“If they want me to help in any way, I will,” he said. “Obviously, I have specific knowledge with regard to diving, and if there’s anything they need in terms of designing the venue or any ideas, I’ll help with whatever they ask.”

If New York does get the winning bid, Donie said, “I’ll be proud. I’ll be honored. I’ll felt like I hopefully helped in what little way I could and then I’ll look forward to helping out in putting on the best Olympics ever.”

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