BEIJING As a second-grader in Salt Lake City, Paul Florence entered the annual PTA-sponsored "Reflections" art and writing contest, with that year's theme being "I have a dream."
And Florence's entry? A drawing of himself skiing titled "I have a dream to be in the Olympics."
This month, Florence has been living his dream in Beijing but no, the Summer Olympics don't include skiing, and snow-covered slopes are nowhere to be found near the capital city of the People's Republic of China.
"I'm in the Olympics just not exactly how I dreamed in the second grade," he said.
Florence is the personal attache of International Olympics Committee president Jacques Rogge, and the job description is simple.
"It's to make sure the president's schedule runs smoothly," said Florence.
And that schedule is jam-packed, given that Rogge has a goal of visiting every competition venue sometime during the
Games. Not to mention the personable IOC president wanting to interact with as many visiting heads of state, Chinese government leaders and Olympic athletes and officials as possible even trying make himself available to media representatives.
Oh, and Rogge will always try to squeeze in time for when athletes from his native Belgium are competing in high-profile events.
Beijing is Florence's fourth Olympics, getting his start in 2002 with the Salt Lake Olympic Committee in international client services.
"I bugged them until I got hired," he said, adding that one position has networked into another every four years.
After he spent six weeks in Athens working mostly with sponsors for the 2004 Games, his 2006 Torino Games involvement was much more extensive.
There he worked as a consultant, making a half-dozen trips to Italy for preparation work, the writing of operational manuals and anything particularly trouble-shooting having to do with international relations and sponsors.
At the end of 2007, he was contacted regarding his current position, which is only a Games-time position, meaning he's working during his summer vacation from a large Bay Area engineering firm where he specializes in geo-political work and projecting international scenarios and risks for clients.
Florence enjoys mingling with international leaders, since that's his field and area of expertise. And Beijing's opening ceremonies at National Stadium drew 91 heads of state more than double the number that attended in Athens.
"The scope of what we were trying to coordinate dwarfed anything the IOC had ever seen before," Florence said.
The Cottonwood High grad has been able to occasionally use the Portuguese he learned as an LDS Church missionary in Brazil, the somewhat related Spanish and the little bit of Italian he picked up leading up to and during the 2006 Games.
His wife, Kimberly, is with him in China but understandably sees little of him because of his nonstop itinerary with Rogge. She's still enjoying herself in Beijing, having worked here six months in 2001 teaching English after graduating from BYU.
Florence has learned that when you're in Rogge's shadow, you're going to get to see some memorable Olympic moments, having witnessed Michael Phelps's eighth gold-medal swim and Usain Bolt's record-setting 100-meter run.
But he sees it Rogge-style, which means walking in in the middle of the competition, sitting down for a few minutes, and then dashing off to the next event whether it be athletic or diplomatic.
"It's the Games at a glimpse it's just a snapshot," Florence said.But it's also his way of living a dream.
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