IT’S THE OLYMPICS!!!
And hot damn do I ever love the Olympics.
Because hot damn do I ever love sport.
I don’t love corporations, or globalization, or nationalism, or any of the other buzzwords that Olympic detractors love to trot out at two and four-year intervals. I don’t love Coke, and I don’t love idiotic, phallic mascots (although my cat sure does love her Quatchi), and I don’t love doping scandals, or unsportsmanlike conduct – issues that are sure to plague these games as they do every other international amateur athletic event.
I don’t love any of these things.
I just love sport.
And I respect and admire these phenomenal athletes who have sacrificed so much – more than I’ll ever know or understand – to push their bodies to the physical limit in an attempt to (pretty much) attain the impossible.
And I cannot for the life of me understand how people can want to take away from this – take away from those who have trained their entire lives for a chance to perform in the world’s spotlight, for that all too brief moment when the collective mass of coagulated humanity turns away from whatever opiate that is currently keeping them apathetic, and docile, uninterested and disengaged – and watches.
If but for a moment, becomes re-engaged.
Ignore all the superfluous, gratuitous, pornographic background noise that is produced from the monolithic and terrifying Olympic machine; ignore the masturbatory circus that is the IOC.
Ignore everything but the events and the players.
At least I will.
Because when you do, it is magic.
Here are three memories (in no particular order) I have of watching this magic. They are events that helped shape me not only as an athlete, but as an individual.
1.) Donovan Bailey’s gold medal 100m final – Atlanta Olympics, June 24, 1996.
Location: The basement of my family’s house, Vancouver, wearing my older sister`s stretched and faded Los Angeles 1984 t-shirt, sun burnt, exhilarated, awe-struck, inspired. To this day whenever I see 9.84 I think of that moment.
2.) Myriam Bedard’s double gold, biathlon – Lillehamer Olympics, 1994
Location: The TV room of my family’s house (different from the previous post), Vancouver. I remember the how tight my chest was, as if my pride has someone squeezed all the air from my lungs. I was so happy for not only my fellow country woman, but for all Canadian women. I cried when my mother told me Myriam had been selected to carry the flag at the closing ceremonies. (It’s very unfortunate that her horrible actions post-games have come to define her memory for many.)
3.) Matthias Steiner’s gold in the 105+ kg weightlifting – Beijing Olympics, 2008
Location: My tiny 600sq foot home as a newlywed, Vancouver. Completely sleep deprived due to staying up all night to watch live feeds on cbc.ca I wept when Matthias won, having learned that his wife – a German woman from Saxony – had died in a car accident just months before his Olympic triumph. He receives his medal holding a picture of her as tears stream down his face.
What about you cats? What are you excited for?
Oh, and as a postscript (and counterargument to this entire post), take a look at The Hater’s Guide to the London Olympics. As someone who has lived in the UK, and who LOVES the Olympics, it is bloody funny as HECK.