The personal side of Olympic Games is fascinating
Like millions of fellow Americans I have been glued to the TV set the last couple of weeks watching the Olympic games. I, too, have always yearned to be the best at something. Something that was uniquely mine, a talent that could not be denied. A...
Like millions of fellow Americans I have been glued to the TV set the last couple of weeks watching the Olympic games. I, too, have always yearned to be the best at something. Something that was uniquely mine, a talent that could not be denied. A talent that defined who I am and of course made me rich and famous, or at the least rich. Alas, I am neither rich nor famous, so I must live my dreams through other people.
While NBC is under attack for showing too many sentimental features about the athletes, I absorb each and every story. These segments are where we get to learn a few details about the competitors and what they had to overcome to get to this stage in their lives. It's where we get to know them better, get an intimate peek into their lives, and learn to care about them as individuals. I want my Olympic contenders to not only be gifted athletes, but gifted people as well. I want to admire them not only for their athletic prowess but also for their determination, tenaciousness and grit. I cannot always tell you who won the medals, but their stories will stick with me long after the snow has melted in Italy.
There are poignant stories about relatives and coaches who have passed on, that are the inspiration for athletes to try just a bit harder; to fulfill someone else's dream for them. There are stories about teens that had to get a hall pass from high school to attend the games and mothers with three children who left their parental duties behind to take one last chance at grabbing that gold medal.
There are amusing stories like the cross-country skier from Kenya who finished 92nd, definitely out of the medals. I wonder what could possibly have inspired him to be a contender in this event? Is there a lick of snow anywhere in Kenya? Where did he train? Who coached him? I love this guy! He can say he competed in the 2006 Olympics!
There are painful stories of backs severely bruised in horrific falls, of muscles pulled to the tearing point, of concussions, head injuries and broken bones; the stories of the athletes who overcame their physical pain and valiantly competed.
There are family stories of a younger sister trying to fill the shoes of an older sister who won a medal. There are brothers who compete directly against each other for glory. And there are hundreds of parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles who line the stands cheering, biting fingernails and praying that their loved ones will reach the finish line in safety and with world-record speed.
There are romantic stories as well. The ice dancing pair that met when each advertised for a skating partner on the Internet. Her posting was from the United States, his from Russia. And yet they met, fell in love and married. I guess you can find love on the Internet, especially if you're both passionate about practicing six hours a day and your goal is to win a medal at the Olympics.
As I watch coverage each night I marvel at the abilities of these athletes. But listening to their personal stories makes them seem like family, so I tear-up at their victories, suffer their losses and believe that each should receive a gold medal.