Thursday, August 9, 2012

Runners and swimmers and soccer – oh my!

Every four years I can get excited about beach volleyball, badminton, weight lifting and swimming. Heck, I can even stand up and cheer for the world-class athletes taking part in synchronized swimming, gymnastics, boxing, wrestling, archery and the dozens of track and field events that define speed, endurance and skill!

All I need do to have a really grand time is push aside the politics, egos and nationalism that hover at the heart of the Olympics and focus on the athletes and their hopes, dreams and mighty efforts to win a gold medal. When it all comes together, there aren’t many other sporting events that capture the drama, excitement and sheer spectacle offered up by this quadrennial event.

I spent the last week or so lost in the whirling and swirling efforts of our women gymnasts and synchronized divers; dashing about with our sprinters and long-distance runners; holding my breath with the U.S. swimmers. There was much that was golden, nicely blended with silver, bronze and a sprinkling of tears.

I also journeyed along with Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings as they battled their way through the sand at the House Guards Parade, site of the beach volleyball competition. They dominated the field of world-class competitors, losing only one game (not a match, but a game) before facing the other U.S. team in the gold-medal finals of the event. Did I mention they were all wearing bikinis?
The U.S. - China match leading up to the finals was as dramatic and exciting as any sporting event I’ve ever witnessed. Four competitors, one ball, a few thousands screaming fans surrounding the court and a few million others watching the action on the tube! I did mention the bikini thing, right?

It was all captured on video tape by NBC and offered up in prime time across the U.S., hours after the actual game. NBC has paid a gazillion bucks for the rights to televise the Olympics and it’s their call on how best to handle the logistics. Unfortunately, unless you’re free to spend hours in front of a TV, or hours more surfing the web, what you’ll end up with each evening is a highlights reel of events!
The world these days moves along at warp speed, but all that high-tech power hasn’t yet dramatically changed the way we watch the Olympics. Go figure! Meanwhile, I’ve got a seat reserved in my den for the men’s marathon on Sunday, followed by the closing ceremony.  In honor of our beach volleyball champs, the lovely Miss Wendy and I will be wearing bikinis!

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