Monday, August 18


I didn’t really sleep this weekend.
I did – but it was at odd hours and in snatches.
Now there are things going on in my life that could leave a G sleepless…questions…hopes…fears… and no, nosy minions, I will not tell you what they are yet, but they are not the cause of my sleeplessness.

I couldn’t sleep because of Gold, Silver and Bronze. Yeah, that’s right, I like watching the Olympics. Yes, I realize that Russia and Georgia are tripping down the primrose path to WWIII, China displaced hundreds and drafted thousands of its citizens to pull off these games and the Spaniards don’t understand the meaning of the word sensitive. I get all that.
But then a young man named Lightning wins a gold medal and shatters a World Record time at a walk and with a laugh. A 38 year old woman wins a marathon in tears and for the first time America goes 1,2 in the All Arounds. Maybe I do have Phelps fever and maybe I don’t want to be cured.

I want to watch the rhythm of rowing and get teary eyed as 9 exhausted and brilliantly victorious young women sing our national anthem joyously off key. I want to be amazed as the Jamaicans sweep the women’s 100 Meter Finals - the first time any nation has ever done that. I want to watch volleyball on the beach and indoors. I want to see people, tennis balls and soccer balls fly through the air. I want to see a ripped entry and a stuck landing, a smooth dunk and an ace. This year I discovered trampoline was a part of gymnastics. For someone who is afraid of heights I look at those athletes the same way I do the high divers – with awe. And how cool is steeplechase? I could totally do that. If, you know, I had any sort of running talent or training at all.

You can say what you want about the commercialization of the games and you can say that they seem unnecessary in this age of World Cups and World Finals each year, but for the athletes and for me there is nothing more thrilling than hearing the words “Olympic Champion”.
And so I did not sleep this weekend until around three am each night, waking before 8 am to start watching again. I’ve found myself pulling for the improbable and witnessing the impossible. I have found myself inspired over and over again by people dedicated to their dreams and their teams and moved by the sight of their country’s flag flying high. How can you not love that?
So while all across the web and the world there are naysayers and cynics I prefer to focus on the 21 year old woman who fell to the ground last night with the flag of her country, Jamaica, wrapped around her and wept after becoming the World’s Fastest Woman. I prefer to focus on what Dara Torres will say to her daughter when she grows up about ‘acting your age’. I prefer to focus on Debbie Phelps giggling like a kid because she got to take a picture with Kobe Bryant and almost fainting when her son won his seventh gold by less than a fingernail. It’s been 24 years since American women have medalled in the 8-man row – but they did it this weekend and it was Gold.

There are many things wrong with the Olympics, but most of these athletes work for four years in relative obscurity for one chance at glory and immortality. And when they get that chance some of them do things that are no less than astounding. THAT is must see TV.


NoRegrets said...

I've only seen two snatches of the olympics when I went out to dinner Fri and Sat nights because I didn't have my TV (was nice and left it for my husband for the time being - but gettting it tonight). And it was hilarious to see the guy who was Nadia's coach jumping up and down watching the gymnasts. I wish I could have seen more...

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

WOO HOO!! Glad it wasn't just me! I so love the summer Olympics but like you say despite all the politicking going on, the games are about those athletes and their families. What is amazing is that Debbie Phelps is a single mother of three, swimming is a sport that needs lot of parental support in the early years, when kids can’t drive etc.

Anyway G, I was up all weekend too, watching and sleeping and watching and sleeping and of course thinking, but I'm sure my thoughts will end up in a blog somewhere!


Susan said...

Be glad you don't have a ton of channels--USA plays the olympics from like..2 am until 8 am.

I have the fever and to hellll with a cure!

WNG said...

I knew I couldn't be the only one - but there are so many snarky blogs out there taking potshots at the countries and forgetting about the athletes. I'm glad you guys are 'sick' with me.

OG - don't even get me started on the awesomeness that is Debbie Phelps. Seriously. Did you see them with Bob Costas yesterday afternoon? I wanted to just hug them both.

NoR - My TV hasn't really been off (or off of NBC) since I got home from the fam re. That is insane for me - but I am completely hooked. There's more gymnastics coming up this week...come to the dark side, Nor...catch the fever...


Doc said...

I want Quidditch to be an Olympic sport.... ;)

(BTW - All G minions please go vote in my Olympics poll if you all haven't already)

Mayren said...

I Second having Quidditch!!!!

I have left you something on my blog sweets, come on by prease.

As American as Apple Pie said...

You were able to capture my exact sentiments in a way that I could not, nor have taken the time to try. Thank you. All I have to say is "DITTO".

And I'll vote for Quidditch too!

WNG said...

1. all the minions are dorks...I love it!

2. You mean Quidditch ISN'T an Olympic sport? Maybe those mushrooms were bad...

3. Yea Mayren Yea!!! I'm on my way!
(that rhymed - did you catch that?)

Jay said...

I've only watched bits and pieces of the Olympics. I've tuned in right about the time that Phelps has been on each night. There are some things that still annoy me. Like the lack of recognition that Phelp's teammates in his relay events and other little things, but whatever.

I respect the athletes and what they accomplished and the work they've put in to get there though. But, most of the events are stuff I don't find all that compelling.

WNG said...

I think he's been pretty good about recognizing his teammates and has said all along what a great team we have on the men's and women's side - but yeah, the media has kind of run with him as the lone ranger of swimming - which isn't true.

There are tons of little things that annoy me as well, but the joy and pain and everything in between on the faces of the athletes - that I find compelling.

slag said...

You actually make it sound interesting. I hope they got the air clean enough. Have you been checking out James Fallows' blog? He was periodically taking pictures out of his window. Nothing but smog to start, but after they started to cut down the city traffic, the difference was measurable.

Gye Greene said...

For the three Jamacian fe. 100M -- weren't the 2nd and 3rd place women so close that they just ended up awarding two silvers, no bronze?

(That's what the AU commentator said; but I haven't followed it up.)

I actually posted an Olympics-ish blog entry -- although it's half-serious, half-farcical(?).


WNG said...

Yup - one gold, two silvers. Very cool. I'll be right over to get my Olympic fix!

Gye Greene said...

Jamacian 100M women's: So, cool! The answer to **two** possible trivia questions:

1) which year were all three of the 100M won by the same country?

2) which year was there no bronze awarded for the three 100M winners -- yet there were three medals awarded?


WNG said...

Yeah - I'm loving the Jamaicans at these games. They just seem to be having so much FUN!