Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sports Talk: The Olympic Spirit

As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published August 1, 2012.
If you have not noticed, I thoroughly enjoy the Olympics.

This goes back pretty far. My earliest memories of the big games were the 1994 Winter Olympics when my brothers and I got hooked on the Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding drama. They might kill me for making this public, but we were so inspired by the skating that year that we attempted our own performances in our roller skates complete with video commentary. Thank goodness that was pre-YouTube.

My first memories of the summer Olympics came in 1996. My family had a layover in Atlanta that spring, and I remember my parents pointing out that the airport construction was in preparation of the Olympics. I was so impressed that my own country had the honor of hosting the Olympic games. I adored USA’s women’s gymnastics team who brought home gold after Kerri Strug’s heroic “stick it” moment.
As I grew older and became more involved in my own athletics (I gave up skating...) I came to appreciate more of the events and learn more about the history of the Olympics; America’s triumphs and woes alike. 

Then the music became a part of my own competitive spirit year-round. Musical compositions are big in my life in general (not because I'm at all musical, because I'm not. I've never played an instrument in my life. I just have a deep passion for movie scores.) 
In my years of running for the Casey County track team my family put together a collection of strictly instrumental inspirational music that we would listen to on the way to meets and I would usually continue with once at the meet. (My brother probably switched to something cooler like Eminem or Metallica.) 

Along with many other themes were "Bugler's Dream," introduced at the 1968 Olympics and John Williams’ 1984 Olympic Fanfare (that anyone who watches the Olympics would recognize) as well as his "Olympic Spirit" written for the 1988 Olympics. 

This year I have kept our TV on nearly nonstop since the Opening Ceremonies and simply walking through the room is dangerous as I get tend to get sucked into anything from water polo to rowing. And, I admit, simply hearing the music is what grabs my attention half of the time. (In fact, I'm listening to the music and watching the TV along with having six screens with Olympic updates open on my Internet browser as I type.) I'm as much in the Olympic moment as a young girl in Kentucky can possibly be this far away from the games themselves.

You might remember last week when I said the most exciting events and Olympic news were still TBD? Well, that was at least one thing I was right about in my preview.
I noted to pay attention to Team USA’s diving because we had the chance to medal the first time since 2000. We did medal, but Kelci  Bryant and Abby Johnston, two athletes I did not key in on, beat David Boudia and Nick McCrory to the punch. Bryant and Johnston took silver in the 3m synchronized springboard. No worries, though, Boudia and McCrory also medaled, taking bronze in the 10m synchronized platform.

Not to be on a girl power streak, but seeing the joy on the face of 17-year-old Missy Franklin who won the women's 100-meter backstroke could have made anyone love the girl. Even Michael Phelps called this young lady a stud and seeing her win that gold just after competing in the 200-meter free-style semi-finals proves he knows what he is talking about. 
To go from Missy’s radiant smile on the medal stand to the cloud of disappointment that loomed over the men's gymnastic team as error after error dashed their hopes of medaling was such an emotional roller coaster even for me. If I can get this worked up over the 2 minutes I pay someone, how can the years of dedication feel?

On a final note, for possibly the best laugh so far, and a throwback to my recent column giving hats off to athlete parents, find the video of Aly Raisman’s parent's watching her bar routine. These games might be harder to get through for the parents than anyone else.

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