The London Olympics: Highs, lows and in-between
We can now all move off the couch, put down the remote and thank the lord we are done being glued to the TV set until another Olympic games comes along.
The numbers of people who closely follow the Olympics are truly staggering and the games has more than it's share of highlights and lowlights.
Some of mine.
Is It Me Or The Tears – I used to argue that the Olympics were just an excuse to display jingoistic fervor, the kind of thing that spawns belligerent dreams and claims of superiority. Now, however, I've changed my mind. I think the fervor now is patriotic. Healthy patriotism. And I think the thing that changed my mind is watching athletes on podiums with medals around their neck, listening to their national anthems and crying. The tears are clearly for the personal sacrifice and hardships of training to be such an elite athlete. But they are also seemed to belong to a national pride that is, to say the least, heart warming.
Bad Taste But What Do You Expect – Gabby Douglas was amazing as she became the first black woman to win a gold in the all-around Olympic gymnastic event. But her victory was soiled by some social media freaks who took it upon themselves to complain about her hair. Her hair! She's 16. The best gymnast in the world. And people were criticizing her ponytail. And jumping on the controversy was the wonderful Fox News network. They actually treated this whole thing seriously. Almost makes you ashamed of white folks.
You Knew He'd Ask A Great Question – In what was probably an accidental stroke of genius, NBC gave John McEnroe a microphone and a camera and something to do beside tennis. His first assignment was the interview Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings, the American beach volleyball team. The three of them were seated on a bench when McEnroe started out with this. "First of all. What about those bathing suits. If I wore that on a tennis court I'd be arrested."
Joy, Joy, Joy – I can't think of another sport where victory is rewarded with such unbridled joy. It's a photographer's dream. The faces of these young athletes are so eloquent when they let go after what is always a tough competition. Smiles, tears, arms upraised and shouts make you tremble as you share the excitement of the winners.
Girls Gone Bad – Talk about destroying the Olympic ideal and giving your sport a bad name, badminton takes the cake. Eight women purposely played badly so that they would getter a better and easier draw in the tournament for the gold medal. The women were from China, Korea and Indonesia. All eight were expelled from the game. Good riddance.
And This Is A Protest? – The London games were mercifully almost free from political protests. But there was one organized movement. Male athletes protested that men were not allowed to compete in synchronized swimming or rhythmic gymnastics. Really?
Annie Got Her Gun – One mantra of athletics is "stay relaxed." It's true of just bout every sport. Nobody seemed calmer than Kim Rhode, who won a medal – gold – in her fifth straight Olympics. Hers came in skeet shooting where she made 99 of 100 shots. Watching the smooth precision and economy of movement was a lesson in how to stay relaxed and perform at the highest level. I'm still not sure what skeet shooting is but it looks extremely hard.
Come Fly Away – Uplifting moments are common in the Olympics. This one had its share, many of which were firsts. The South African runner who competed while wearing prosthetic devices made you shake your head in wonder. But the vision of the Saudi Arabian woman coming in last in her heat in the 800 was soul stirring. Wearing black tights and a scarf on her head, she became the first woman ever from Saudi Arabia to compete in the games. It was one small step forward for women, one giant leap for womankind.
When I watched the opening ceremonies I compared it to China's opening ceremonies (which were spectacular) and I was disappointed....however, I think Great Britain did a wonderful job throughout the Olympics. Congrats to all the participants and I'm glad it's finally over....let's go Pack!
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