I’m an Olmypics-aholic.
Every few years, when the Olympics roll around, my enthusiasm for the games inevitably outpaces my husband’s. He’ll pad off, shaking his head, searching for a saner room of the house to retreat to while I attempt to watch every hour of evening Olympic coverage plus as much as I can squeeze in on the weekends and via the Today Show in the mornings.
My first Olympic memory is of Nadia Comaneci. I don’t recall watching her gold medal performance in 1976, though I must have done so. I definitely do recall pretending to be Nadia for months and years afterward. My friends and I would do our little girl version of a floor routine, then puff out our chests and extend our arms upward in the classic gymnast’s pose.
My next Olympic memories stem from the 1984 Olympics in L.A. I remember Carl Lewis and his 4 gold medals. Mary Lou Retton. And how avidly my sports-fan dad followed the coverage.
So far in this current Rio Olympics, I’ve been most inspired by the following…
#1: The excellence of the USA women’s gymnastics team
I stayed up late to watch them compete in the team competition earlier this week. I was blown away by their excellence. And yes, by their ability to perform under extraordinary pressure. But most of all, by their excellence because, wow, excellence is not easy to come by.
“As I counsel with people in our day, many of them young people, I am convinced that one of their biggest problems is that they expect shortcuts.” -Dr. James Boice
It’s obvious that the USA women’s gymnastics team took no shortcuts. They achieved what they did thanks to hard, hard, hard work.
#2: The mom-ness of some of our Olympians
The Olympics are not just the domain of teenagers and twenty-somethings. Kerri Walsh Jennings is 37 and going for gold in beach volleyball for the fourth time. She’s a mother of three for Pete’s sake!
Kristin Armstrong just won her third straight gold at time trial cycling. She’s 43 and the mother of a young son. In this interview she’s quoted as saying:
“I think that for so long we’ve been told that we should be finished at a certain age. And I think that there’s a lot of athletes out there that are actually showing that that’s not true.
“For all the moms out there, I hope that this was a very inspiring day.”
It was for this mom, Kristin.
I’ll close with videos of two of my favorite Olympic moments….
#1: USA speed skater Dan Jansen triumphing over adversity to win gold
Remember how Dan was favored to win medals at his first Olympics, in Calgary in 1988? His sister was dying of leukemia at the time and the day of his first race, he received the news that she’d passed away. During his race, he fell. During his second race, he fell.
In Albertville in 1992 he finished off the medal podium in both races.
At his third Olympics, in Lillehammer in 1994, he finished 8th in his first race. Then, on his second race, the final race of his storied career, victory. Click here to watch the video clip.
#2: British sprinter Derek Redmond limping to the finish line
No explanation’s necessary here because the video will tell the story. Have Kleenex handy.
The Olympics are beautiful to me! The struggle, the dedication, the failures, the victories, the stories.