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Olympics a busy time for city native
BY LINDLEY ESTES
Fredericksburg native Dan Fingerhut had the best seat in the house at the London Olympic Games and again soon at the Paralympics: behind the scenes.
Fingerhut, the cluster manager for services, including catering and cleaning, has been working on the Olympic organizing committee in London for more than two years.
His mother, Kay Barton of Fredericksburg, said that she’s always watched the Olympics, but the games were especially exciting knowing that her son was there.
“He’s there doing something meaningful,” she said. “You see a building and he’s there making it work.”
During the games, he worked primarily with the North Greenwich Arena which hosted artistic gymnastics, trampoline and the finals of the basketball teams.
During the Paralympics, the multinational event for athletes with physical disabilities that begins on Aug. 29, that building will host the wheelchair basketball event.
He also did planning in the years leading up to the London games in other venues such as soccer sites and the Excel Center, which hosted over 10 different sports.
A 1984 graduate of James Monroe High School, Fingerhut said his experiences in the city helped shape him for life abroad.
The most formative of his experiences in Fredericksburg was working for the rescue squad.
“Running thousands of calls over the years and seeing some people in the worst situations of their life and even some of those losing their life, I saw at a young age that life is short, very short, and I must get out there and do what is important to me,” he said in an email interview from London.
For Fingerhut, travel was one of those priorities.
After James Monroe, Fingerhut earned degrees from George Mason University and the Culinary Institute of America before living abroad.
Fingerhut now has dual citizenship between Australia and the U.S.
He first moved down under in 1999 to pursue his dream of working with the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and has been based in the country for about a decade.
Fingerhut was successful in his search for work with the 2000 summer games, becoming the second in charge of catering in the main Olympic stadium.
Barton said that she has had travel opportunities with her son living abroad.
“As a mom it’s hard,” she said. “But I never would have gone to Australia without him there.”
Barton also visited her son in London before the games.
“It was like a preview,” she said. “He showed me where things were going to be.”
Since the Sydney Olympics, he has worked with a number of major athletic events such as the the World Masters Games and the Commonwealth Games, both major athletic events in Australia.
After the London games, Fingerhut said he will take a position with another major world sporting event, “but first I need a holiday and a little rest.”
Fingerhut said that working with the games helped him appreciate the work that goes into preparing for the Olympics.
“[P]eople ask me what I do working on the games for a few years, and they cannot understand how much work goes into these events and how long they actually take to plan,” he said.
Fingerhut said that planning for the London Olympics took about seven years.
For Fingerhut, the Olympics aren’t just entertaining, they’re important.
“They get people thinking about sport,” he said.
Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976