“Sport is friendship. Sport is health. Sport is education. Sport is life. Sport brings the world together.”
— Juan Antonio Samaranch, 1996 Olympics
I had no plans to do a blog on the Olympics, but after watching last night’s Opening Ceremonies I just couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for the games. It would be a dream to cover them as a journalist. Guess I need to study Journalism at PennState like my daughter’s high school buddy who is doing just that…as a student! How awesome!
So, what did you think about London’s Opening Ceremonies? I’ve heard grumbling about them in comparison to China’s most recent games but I actually kind of liked the historical and somewhat low-key tone of them. HRH the Queen as a “Bond Girl” was brilliant, but can she not smile, ever? I know there’s been controversy over the U.S.A. team’s outfits being made in China, but personally, I think the debate should be that they were pretty dreadful style-wise! I loved Sweden’s festive yellow and blue uniforms and fittingly, Bermuda’s Bermuda shorts.
What I really loved about the Opening Ceremonies was the prominent role children had and in watching Muhammad Ali’s wife tell him “grab the flag” and “wave” as the legend tried his hardest to take part in it all. Seeing basketball superstars Kobe and LeBron videotaping it all on their phones as they walked in was also memorable, if for no other reason even American multimillionaire icons consider the games special. I also loved the “honor guard” of Olympic site construction workers as the torch entered the stadium. The torch itself was unique and impressive, but I still think the best torch lighting ever was Barcelona’s shooting of the arrow in 1992. Who can also ever forget that Spanish city’s diving venue? I have a feeling neither of those will ever be topped. It’s like trying to top Al Michael’s famous “Do you believe in miracles?”
I remember that amazing Lake Placid event, and I have lots of Olympic memories in my memory bank. I actually remember Nadia’s “Perfect 10” in Montreal and I had posters of Mark Spitz with all his medals hanging in my room. What memories do you have? Do you have favorite Olympic sports and/or athletes? I like all of the sports, but I particularly enjoy women’s gymnastics. Cathy Rigby; Nadia; Mary Lou; Kerri Strug and Shannon Miller and the entire 1996 gold medal winning “Magnificent Seven; and most recently, gold medalists Carly Patterson and Nastia Liukin. I love them all.
I even remember famous Soviet gymnasts like Olga Korbut, Svetlana Khorkina and Svetlana Boginskaya. I will admit that I’m happy with today’s political state of affairs in the world, but the Olympics have never felt quite the same without the former Soviet bloc teams. I respected Soviet gymnasts and East German swimmers, but boy did I want the U.S.A. to beat them! It’s just not the same rooting against Japanese gymnasts and Australian swimmers.
As always, I think Bob Costas did an outstanding job last night. Ditto for Matt Lauer. I thought they were both entertaining and informative. Who knew Denmark was extremely competitive in table tennis and that the country of Tuvalu sold its tv.com domain to a California company for millions?! Who even knew there was a country called Tuvalu?!
Maybe my friend Jane’s son does now, as he had a giant world map out last night and found every country on it as the teams entered the stadium. What a bright idea! He might also know that Nicaragua is Central America’s largest country, even though I didn’t despite the fact one of my dearest friends is from there!
What an honor it must be to represent your country – small countries like Liechtenstein, war-torn nations like Syria, and the home team Brits. And what about the women of Saudi Arabia? This is the first Olympics ever that women will be competing for that Arabian kingdom. Speaking of women, 2012 marks the first time there are more women than men on the U.S. team. You go girls!
There’s nothing like the Olympics and there’s nothing like rooting for the red, white and blue home team. Who doesn’t get misty-eyed watching the stars and stripes rise as the National Anthem is played for one of our treasured gold medal winners? There are also others worth cheering on, like the South African runner with prosthetic legs, athletes who are their nation’s sole representative, and any nation that has never won an Olympic medal. The thrill of victory is always matched by the agony of defeat though. I’ve always said the two loneliest people in the world just might high school freshmen boys and anyone who finishes fourth in the Olympics.
Let those games begin and let’s root for everyone. Let’s hope for faster, higher, and stronger. For us. For the world.