I Love the Olympics!
The games, the amateur nature of the sporting events, the faces of the athletes who train four years to get there.
This year’s Olympics in Brazil is a special treat because I get to watch more events; both because my schedule allows and the wonderful television coverage on several stations, thanks to my husband’s insistence that we pay to get his favorite sports stations.
I have been thrilled to watch sports that typically I would not see on TV; sculling, shooting, archery, sailing. I have learned that trampoline is an Olympic sport, and why that is so. What a tough task these aerial gymnasts have to face--the twists, the turns and moving surface. It is challenging and tough to watch.
Are these games so enticing because I am watching with a new interest, or am I watching at such a fever pace because I can flip through the stations, record programs and then speed past the commercials? Contributing to the intensity, I know that at age 54, I cannot do what these athletes do. I no longer train hard and never did at that level. Nor do I have the athleticism. I realize that there are sports that have older participants – from shooting to archery to equestrian. However, it's doubtful that they took up the sport in their 50’s, as I would have to do.
I‘ll keep watching to share the athlete’s joy and their tribulations and trials too. The stories are fabulous... from what they have given up to train, to who their coaches as are. One young crew recently graduated from medical school. Her Dad, who was a former Olympic qualifier, is her coach. She is now an Olympic Silver medalist. Other athletes have family members as coaches or have been with their coaches for decades.
Michelle Carter, the gold medalist in the shot put, has the Olympics in her blood. Her father also medaled in the shotput in 1984.
These stories ignite my interest, and the surprise winners do too Maya Dirado and her gold ... a woman with a quiet faith, as it turns out, who already is married with a home and fabulous job to go back to after the Olympics. Will her medal change her mind? Will she want to ride her gold to glory, perhaps to the next Olympics, taking advantage of the promoting and marketing potential of her gold status? Her quiet, vibrant ways are in direct contrast to the Great Britain male team of synchronized divers who medaled and proudly said, "We have our faith in God that carried us through the event. It is His plan."
Such a diverse host of stories and people. That is the draw of the Olympics for me -- nations coming together. From seeing a woman from Saudi Arabia in her hijab run the 100-meter dash to watching Estonia's female triplets participating in the marathon. From knowing a 35-year-old got a medal in swimming to the O’Donovan brothers winning a silver in light weight sculling--Ireland’s only medal so far in the games. All these hardworking individuals who not only have talent but work hard to accomplish much, now sharing on the larger stage.
The Opening ceremonies were beautiful. Brazil did an incredible job with the event with a far smaller budget than London, demonstrating that creativity does not cost money and the budget of the Olympics is far from the point of the races.
The beauty of the night was highlighted by the standing ovation given to the refugee team. That is the true nature of the power of the Olympics. There is a space for all athletes, even these ten without a country. The Olympic committee made a statement opening up the competition to these refugees at a time when refugees are marginalized. These athletes fought to get here beyond what anyone can imagine.
The coming together for greater good and sportsmanship are the point. These events are the focus on the positive that the world needs.
I am delighted to get the reminder every two years. The Olympics may be an inspiration to train but for now, I am doing my share of experiencing the thrill of the game. My back hurts from sitting, yet I will keep on watching.