There's just something about the Olympics. Everybody is watching. For two weeks it's not some terrible tragedy or incomprehensible act of evil that's keeping the whole world in front of the TV. There is so much ugliness in the world but the Olympics is something that everyone across the nation can watch and take pride in together. It's more than just sports.
It's a metaphor for what we aspire to be. Courageous, strong, determined, skilled. It's the best of the best and the only thing that even comes close to the incredible talent and athleticism that the Olympics displays is the way it unites the world. Every four years a crop of new and returning athletes from all over the fights to earn the opportunity to live out a dream. It's the chance for athletes to compete and be rewarded for their hard work with exposure, endorsements and other opportunities that they might not otherwise get. It doesn't matter how marginal your sport or how tiny your country. Once you become an Olympian you also become a shining star in your own right. Gold, Silver, Bronze or no metal at all the fact that you made it at all is the biggest accomplishment of all. Some just want to compete and others come for medals but they are all winners. The Olympics is the biggest competition of their life. The pressure is intense and I think that's what really draws you in. The culmination of years of hard work, dedication and sacrifice has come down to one moment. Everyone wants to do their best. Some do and some don't. You can always expect incredible stories of victory, disappointment and of overcoming the odds. It's really magical but at times even heartbreaking.
I used to be a gymnast and now I'm a fan. I recorded the 1988, 1992, 1996 Olympics and everything I could watch in between on VHS tapes with a VCR. I don't know if or when I will ever watch those old tapes again but I still have them in a shoebox somewhere. Gymnastics is near and dear to my heart and not just every four years. Gymnasts do things that the human body simply should not be able to do. The acrobatic skills they do defy the laws of gravity and reason. What sane individual does a standing full twisting back tuck on a four inch wide four foot high beam? How is it that a person even has the ability and air awareness to do such a thing? At a high level all sports are hard even if they don't always look it but Gymnastics is one of those sports where there is no mistaking the incredible degree of talent and sheer guts that it takes to do it. You must do incredibly difficult and dangerous skills without fear. And then you must do it over and over again perfectly. I'm totally in awe of what they do and the dedication it takes to do it. Even if no one pays attention every other year Gymnastics is always one of the most popular Olympic sports. I was glued to the TV screen along with the rest of the world watching every Tkatchev, double twisting double back and two and a half twisting Yurchenko.
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