The Olympics

I am not particularly athletic, nor do I follow sports.  However, I love the Olympics and I always watch. I was born in an Olympic year, and apparently my mother would watch them as she fed us in the evenings, so I suppose you could even say I’ve loved it since I was born.

My favorite sports to watch in the summer games are swimming and gymnastics. I know how to swim, but I am completely gymnastically challenged. I’ve never even been able to do a proper cartwheel. This is one reason that I love watching the gymnasts so much;  I am just so in awe of what they are able to do. This year, I feel so…old. All of the women gymnasts are younger than I am. It has put in perspective for me just how incredible it is for them to be there. Their accomplishments come with sacrifices; to say that they are dedicated or that they have worked hard is an understatement.

While I was watching yesterday, I admired the speed, agility, and strength of some of the world’s best athletes. I also admired the way they handled defeat. Or maybe not defeat, but not doing as well as they wanted to, or as well as they know they could have done. We’ve all felt that way before, perhaps after a test or a violin recital, but not at the Olympics. Not in front of the world.   To say “It is disappointing” can’t possibly even begin to describe how they really feel, but that’s what they tell all the reporters.  These people are pushing the limits of what human bodies can do. How fast they can propel themselves through water? To what degree can you defy gravity and and gracefully flip your body through the air? It must be hard then, when inches or fractions of a second get in the way of your dreams.  Watching John Orozco fall off the pummel horse, or the one slalom kayakers flip over in rapids, I want to tell them, “I’m sure you’ve done that perfectly thousands of times before! Otherwise you wouldn’t be there!” Their ability to accept their own humanity and continue to persevere is something we can all learn from them. I will never have the abdominal strength required to hurl my own body in the air, but I hope I can be as dedicated in the things that matter to me. I hope I can always believe in myself, even when I don’t do as well as I want to. There is something to be said for being proud of silver, or even fourth place, while still always aiming for the gold.

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