My turn to weigh in on the Olympics

I took an atlas home on Friday night so Mike and I could look up the countries we hadn’t heard of while we were watching the opening ceremonies. Every country we hadn’t heard of was an island country in the Pacific Ocean. One of my friends said, “You took an atlas home? Only geeks would do that.” Although she admitted that there were a lot of countries she’d never heard of, so she could see how an atlas would be useful. Ha! That’s what I thought!

I tend to get caught up in the Olympics. I cried when I heard about Jimmy Shea’s grandfather dying just a few days before the 2002 opening ceremonies. I am still disappointed about Michelle Kwan’s losses – she has been my favorite skater for years and years. It’s so unfair that she can consistently be the best skater in the world . . . except on that one night. But, you know, that’s how the Olympics are. We watched Miracle a few weeks ago, and the coach said something about that: “If we played them ten times, they might win nine, but not this game. Not tonight. Tonight, we skate. Tonight, we stay with them, and we shut them down, because we can!”

That “this is the only moment that counts” idea means we can get some pretty humorous moments, too. This article recalls one of my favorites:

One of the most memorable stories of the event occurred at the short-track speed skating. Australian skater Steven Bradbury, an honest competitor who had previously won a bronze as part of a relay team but well off the pace of the medal favourites, cruised off the pace in his semifinal only to see his competitors crash into each other, allowing him through to the final. Bradbury was again well off the pace, but lightning struck again and all four other competitors crashed out in the final, leaving a jubilant Bradbury to take the most unlikely of gold medals, Australia’s first in a Olympic Winter Games event.

I remember watching that with some of my friends and laughing for about 20 minutes. That Australian guy skated across the line as if saying, “This was my plan all along! I’ll wait for everyone else to fall down and then zip across the finish line!” Hee!

Another story that I love (and have searched InfoTrac and EBSCO for an article about . . . bonus points to any reader who can find me a link to an article about this guy) was from Sydney. There was a guy who came to participate in one of the swimming events who had very little swimming experience. He practiced in the hotel swimming pool. When he participated in qualifying events, it took him twice as long as everyone else to finish, but finish he did, to a standing ovation from the crowd. Watching the parade of nations on Friday, I thought they said he was from Ecuador (but I could be wrong ETA: In fact I was wrong), and that he’d been working on his time, but that he had some passport problems and he might not be able to make it to Athens in time.

[See the comments: Geof found him for me. His name is Eric Moussambani.]

I could probably keep telling stories like this for days (but don’t fear, I won’t). There’s just something about the idea of the entire world coming together to compete that I find really compelling. I love sports anyway, and I love to see the world’s best athletes for competing for two weeks, to hear about how hard they’ve worked and what they’ve had to overcome to get there. I wasn’t blessed with a single speck of athletic ability, but I sure admire those who have it.

So, tell me what your favorite Olympic moments are. And I’ll leave you with one final one of mine: Derek Redmond’s father helping him across the finish line.

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  1. Why Cruft-Free URLs Rock
    My friend Kari wrote an entry about how she views the Olympics, and one of the things she discussed was:

    Another story that I love (and have searched InfoTrac and EBSCO for an article about . . . bonus points to any reader who can find me a link to …