Friday, August 08, 2008

888 Olympics Kick-Off

So the Olympics officially kick off today. And as I am living in China I would love to say that I am stoked about it but the truth of the matter is that I don't really care. I love watching gymnastics as much as the next guy but I don't even have an antenna let alone cable TV. If I find the time I might run off to Beijing to see what the city is like full of tourists, athletes, and media. The club scene will probably be off the hook. So as I have nothing constructive to say about the Olymipcs I am lining to a post from Devine Caroline. These 5 Awesome Olympic Moments are worth the effort of watching to get into that whole Olympic spirit. Its not about Free Tibet or Human Rights in China. Its about sports and evolution!

Five Unbelievable Olympic Moments

By: Jacinta O’Halloran (View Profile)

I’ve got somewhat sadistic tendencies when it comes to sports; for me, it’s all about the agony and the ecstasy—the greater the athletes’ agony, the greater my ecstasy. Maybe I’ve listened to too many power anthems and watched too many Rocky movies, but I want to watch the greatest of the great athletes stumble, fall, and maybe even bust a gut, only to find an inner strength to overcome and triumph—all so that I can have a good cry. There’s no doubt that there will be drama at the Beijing Olympics, but I’m hoping for gory—ahem, I mean glory, too. Athletes will push themselves—and each other—and hopefully, some will fall down, only to rise up stronger than ever. Until then, I’m warming up my adrenal glands with a few of my personal favorite Olympic moments, moments that have less to do with gold, and more to do with blood, sweat, and tears … and heart.

Derek Redmond
1992, Barcelona

Derek Redmond didn’t win a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. He didn’t set any records either, but he finished his race (which is more than I can usually say). Favored for gold in the 400-meter relay, Redmond pulled a hamstring 150 meters into his race and fell to the ground in pain. In a moment that seemed scripted for television (actually, it’s now a Visa commercial) Redmond, down but not out (cue Rocky music), pulled himself to his feet to continue his race. As he cried and limped the 150 yards to the finish line, his father ran out onto the track to help. Arm in arm, they crossed the finish line together. Sniffle, it was quintessential Olympic spirit, quintessential father-son. Sob, gets me every time…

Steven Bradbury
2002, Salt Lake City

One of my favorite Olympic moments is not so much a tearjerker, but a jaw-dropper. When Steven Bradbury took the gold in the men’s short track 1000-meter event at the Salt Lake City 2002 Winter Olympic Games, everything changed for me. Up to then, I thought I had to all out kill myself to be a winner, when really—as Bradbury illustrated at the Games—it all comes down to luck. In the quarterfinals, Bradbury finished third (only the top two advance), but he was allowed to advance by a fluke when another competitor was disqualified. In the semi-finals, Bradbury was in last place, when three of the other competitors crashed into each other, allowing him to take second place. In the final, Bradbury was trailing, when unbelievably, all four of Bradbury’s competitors crashed at the final corner, leaving a shocked Bradbury to accept the gold medal. I’m not even bothering to train to win next year’s New York City Marathon on the strength of this …

Kerri Strug
1996, Atlanta

I once participated in a gymnastics competition with a rip in the backside of my leotard. I’d love to say that despite this adversity, I clinched gold for my team and was applauded for my great bravery, but in fact, I was so conscious of my exposed backside (and the fact that one cartwheel might get me arrested for indecent exposure) that I could not deliver my routine with any grace. This might explain (or not) why I feel such an affinity for U.S. gymnast Kerri Strug; her leotard was intact, but her ankle was severely injured when she fell on her first vault at the 1996 Olympic games. She worked through the pain, though, and landed her next vault perfectly on one foot, securing the women’s team gold. With a Lifetime movie deal in mind no doubt, Strug then saluted the judges, and the crowd, before collapsing to the floor in pain. I channel this moment every time I stub my toe and want to call in sick.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
1994, Lillehammer

When I watch the Olympics, I feel inspired, happy, patriotic, and then I feel like an underachiever sitting on my couch watching other people succeed and exceed their wildest dreams. Maybe that’s why I enjoy a good Olympic scandal as much as any touching moment. I’ll never forget the shock and drama surrounding the 1994 attack on Olympic ice skater Nancy Kerrigan. Only one month before the games in Lillehammer, she was struck in the knee in what at first appeared to be a random act of violence, but later turned out to be a vicious conspiracy involving her chief skating rival Tonya Harding. Kerrigan recovered in time to compete against Harding in the Winter Olympics where Kerrigan won a silver medal. Harding finished eighth and was later banned for life from participating in events or coaching.

The USA Hockey Team
1980, Lake Placid

Forget Rocky, The Karate Kid, and Chariots of Fire, when I need an adrenaline rush, I watch clips from the U.S. team of amateur and college players defeated the Soviet Union—considered at the time to be the best international hockey team in the world. It was classic untamed underdog glory.

The Beijing Olympics will no doubt give us more awe-inspiring, tear-jerking, scandal-creating, unbelievable moments, and I’m looking forward to every single one. Let the games begin.

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