Admiration turned to dedication when one local athlete ran beside his role model during the recent filming of an Olympic commercial in Athens, Greece.
“It was beautiful – the best thing that ever happened to me,” Bronx Community College student John Xavier said about his recent trip overseas.
Running alongside famed American sprinter Tyson Gay, Xavier was thrilled to be part of the filming for the Swiss watch company Omega, the official timekeepers for the Olympic games since 1932.
Xavier was one of eight athletes who repeatedly ran the 100-meter dash at the site of the 2004 Olympic track and field competition to aid in what became one of the most viewed commercials during the Beijing Olympics.
“It’s a great hobby and it brought me to Greece,” Xavier explained about the involvement with the BCC track team that earned him the unexpected trip.
The Bronxite, a resident of Boston Road and 220th Street, first learned of the opportunity in February after his coach, Monica Stevens, recommended him to IRIE Jam Radio reporters who were scouting for track candidates to help with the commercial’s filming.
After a brief meeting with the scouts later that month, Xavier was selected. He was en-route to Greece by mid-March.
Xavier worked approximately four hours each day on set, with his off time exploring the majestic surroundings.
“I saw some of the notable Greek historic sites, including the Parthenon on the Acropolis and the original site of the ancient Olympics outside of Athens,” he explained.
Having previously studied Greece in school, Xavier said the trip was the real-life history lesson he always dreamed of.
“The people were nice. The food was nice. And I had the best fruit salad ever,” he recalled.
Fully taking advantage of all the amenities of the trip, Xavier said, “I also had a chance to strike up a friendship with Tyson Gay,” he excitedly stated about the runner who recently placed fifth in the 100-meter semi-final race in Beijing. “We talked about general stuff and about college life.”
As if the all expense paid trip and opportunity to run with an Olympic athlete weren’t enough, Xavier also received on Omega Seamaster watch and Adidas shoes, among other trinkets, as additional compensation for his involvement with the commercial.
Xavier said his parents, who currently live in the Commonwealth of Dominica, were thrilled by his participation in the commercial and hope it will open up doors in his future.
Currently studying at Bronx Community College, Xavier said he hopes to work in the computer graphics industry upon graduation.
While he said he’s going to continue to work diligently on his studies, he added, “I learned that anything is possible to anybody if you want it the most.”
To view the commercial, visit www.youtube.com and select Omega Olympics commercial.