The 2008 summer games have lived up to the 4-year hype, imo.
We all wondered if Michael Phelps would break Mark Spitz’ record of 7 Gold Medals (see previous blog). He not only did, but posed for a picture ala Spitz in ’72. I wonder if they’ll sell posters? This Phelps Phanaticism even turns football watchin’, beer guzzlin’ guys into swimming phans. Jamie Mac was watching a Chiefs pre-season game the night Phelps was going for his 8th Gold Medal, when one of the guys yelled, “turn it over to swimming”. And…they did. What in the world is going on here?
Though I loved watching MP kick those size 14’s, my favorite part of the Olympics had to be the women’s gymnastic event…wait a minute, scratch that…the women & chinese girls gymastic event. Totally was caught up in the Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson story. Two USA teenagers who couldn’t be more different.
Nastia, the long-legged elegant daughter of immigrants from the old Soviet Union, and Shawn, the pint-sized ball of fire from America’s heartland, who looked like she could play Gidget.
One coached by her Russian-born Father who won gold for the Soviet Union, then moved his family to Texas in search of a better life for them; opened up a gym, only to find that his daughter would become his star pupil, then watched her win gold. The other coached by a man born in Beijing who left China for a better life in Iowa; opens a gym, only to find a 6-year old who, 10 years later, would take him back to his hometown and also win gold. Only in America.
That’s what the Olympics are all about. It’s so much more than the competition.
It was Natalie du Toit of South Africa who, despite losing a leg in an accident, swam in the open water competition.
It was Misty Mays, who scattered her mother’s ashes onto the wet sand, after she and Kerri Walsh won their second Gold Medal in Beach Volleyball.
And the heartbreak…
Lolo Jones, who was a lock to win the 110m hurdles, only to hit one of the hurdles and tumble to the ground. When TV interviewed her afterwards, she was composed and gracious in defeat. Later cameras caught her under the stadium, all alone, collapsed in tears.
Tyson Gay, who came to these games as the world’s fastest man and the defending world champion in the 100m & 200m. Due to an earlier injury, he didn’t even qualify for the finals. Then, in the 4x100m race, his last medal chance fell to the ground when he dropped the baton during an exchange.
And Dara Torres, the 41-year old mother, who lost a gold medal by one one-hundreth of a second in her 50m swim. (Conversely, Michael Phelps won a gold medal by one one-hundreth of a second). One-one hundreth of a second!
Despite some questionable judging – uh, Nastia & Shawn should each have another Gold Medal. Despite the smog – uh, mist – that surrounds Beijing. This truly has been a remarkable Olympic adventure.
I’m sure I’ve missed many other stories of these games. Your comments are always welcomed.