Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sports Talk: Olympic Trials, Successes and Failures

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published June 27. 

There is so, so much I could contribute to the sports world in this week’s column. I’ll go ahead and break it to you that I’m not going to recap the NBA draft. (Sorry, Wildcat fans. It is a cool historical event, though.)
I am very interested in the long-awaited end to the BCS Bowl series in college football, which is being replaced by a four-team playoff beginning in 2014; but I’ll save my college football rants for the fall.
As I sit on my couch to write this and the Olympic Trials broadcast before me and my American pride begins to glow; how can I write about anything else?
No matter the sport the TV is displaying, it has my attention. The Olympics themselves will hold their own appeal, of course, but the trials are just as compelling and sometimes more heartbreaking for me to watch.
At least in the Olympics you have a team to root for. For me, the athletes  at the trials are all incredibly amazing and dedicated athletes taking their one shot to make it to the real deal in London. I have no one to root against.
There is no doubt in my mind that even the last place finisher or lowest scorer in these trials has incredible skill and strength. Some of them compete in the trials, simply happy to be there, knowing their chances of making the team are slim to none compared to their competition.
Others come with hope for a first trip or the hope for a medal in London or a hope for a second chance at a missed opportunity in Beijing. One crucial moment can make or break that.
I find myself watching 45-year-old Tara Dorres move through the water as though she was born in it the waves, and capture win after win to make her sixth trip to the Olympic arena. Forty-five? Really??
The I turn around to see not-quite-sixteen-year-old Kyla Ross stand solo in front of thousands to face a set of uneven bars. Her should, legs, abs, and arms could put any athlete to shame. And I called myself a ‘serious’ athlete at that age??
While you want the best of the best to represent the U.S. in London, it is still heart wrenching to watch another athlete—whom has also put in training beyond anything I can imagine—just miss the cut.
Seeing Nastia Liuken plummet to the ground during her uneven bar routine sent the crowd silent as well as the announcers. Alone on the stage with such an extreme error leaves most without words; however, with the conclusion of her routine came thunderous applause for her courage.
Liuken will not be traveling to London after claiming five medals in 2008.
Hearing the gun shoot twice instantly at the start of the men’s 200-meter semi-final track and field event was a downer. One false start and Texas Christian University’s Charles Silmon was done. It’s not that Silmon was expected to qualify in the 200; but he’d earned his right to be there, and a silly mistake put him out of the competition.
The Olympics and trials, both, give us both moments of triumph and moments of heartbreak, but that is what makes them so special. It’s not pee-wee anymore. Not everyone gets to be there and of those that make it, not all of them can bring home a medal.
I am proud of and excited for all of those athletes who will be representing our stars and stripes later this month. Congrats and I’m looking forward to cheering on Team U.S.A. Happy Independence Day!

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