Thursday, August 19, 2004

Did I mention I'm an Olympic junkie?

For those who didn't see the Men's All Around Gymnastics Finals tonight, I'm sooooo sorry. It's my mother's fault really. She instilled a love of the Olympics deep in my heart, especially gymnastics, figure skating, and more figure skating. (She also made me love show tunes, cooking, and classic films. Anybody shocked I sleep with boys?) Tonight's competition reminded me why.

It was the greatest comeback I have ever seen at the Olympics. Possibly anywhere. It proved when you behave like a champion, never quitting and pouring forth all of your effort/heart/soul, anything is possible. It doesn't matter if it's the American athletes or a Jamaican bobsled team, "I love me my underdogs." There are so many moving stories, struggles just to make it to the games. I often have what straight guys would feel the need to call "allergy attacks." Even the cheesy, produced history lessons move me.

This year alone - with only a few days of competition complete - there are plenty of stories. For the first time ever, Afghani women are competing. Thanks to new designs in body suits, Muslim women are swimming for gold. A swimmer came from nowhere (read UW) to place 7th in the world. An American male won the All Around gold in gymnastics for the first time in history, overcoming a fall to 12th place and certain defeat. The oldest world record in swimming was shattered by four American women. The Iraqi soccer team, airlifted to Athens in secret by the US military, wins match after match even though they've never competed on an international level. A group of men from Puerto Rico became the first team ever to defeat the American Dream Team on the basketball court.

Despite commmercialism, unheard-of security precautions, and questionably strict drug testing rules, the human spirit is shining brightly. Good sportsmanship abounds. Ordinary people - accountants, teachers, and housewives - are reaching for the impossible...and grabbing it. Watch some of the games. Ping pong, diving, badminton, beach volleyball, water polo, rowing...there are stories to be told, and some yet to be written. Tune it. It's worth it.

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