Citius, Altius, Fortius
I haven’t much been inspired to write about the Summer Olympics in Beijing, but I have had the good fortune of being able to view a fair bit of the Games. Television screens (muted as they are) provide me a look at events in the mornings while I work – including the scandalous opening ceremonies – and being home in the evenings I’ve been able to watch a number of events as they happen.
Sure, there are a number of events that I don’t particularly care for, even more that I don’t understand. I mean, fine – I get that the Games originated in ancient Greece and were celebrated for some 1000 years before the Romans took over the country and outlawed Paganism. Likewise, I understand that the events in such competitions were all based on feats and skills required of warriors (like swimming, wrestling, and forms of combat).
What I don’t get is why some of the events are in the Olympics, excepting to say that it seems only to be a collection of all the popular fair weather sports. I admit, I’m no expert on ancient Greece, but I’m pretty sure there weren’t any trampolines or ping pong tables back in the first few centuries, BC or AD.
Anyway, regardless of all else, I’m enjoying the events in the spirit of international competition and sportsmanship. And though I’m maybe a touch disappointed that Canada hasn’t won any medals (at least, at the time of this writing), I have been impressed by a few athletes individually.
Alicia Sacramone, gymnast, age 20.
There was this huge hype surrounding the women’s gymnastics circuit, pitting the American and Chinese squads in a tense competition with one another for the gold. I watched the balance beam and floor exercise events, particularly the American squads (cos that’s really all the network showed), and Alicia Sacramone led her team.
She began on the beam by falling off during her mount, and this continued into her floor exercise, in which she fell on her back during the first tumble of her routine, and stepped out of bounds. What I came to admire was the inner strength she displayed, somehow steeling herself enough to continue her routines – and particularly on the balance beam, where frankly, a minor mistake can lead to major injury. And despite the errors, her performances were simply amazing. For all, bravo.
Federica Pellegrini, swimmer, age 20.
I know nothing about Olympic athletes. I don’t follow them between the games, I know nothing at all about how hard they’ve trained, their struggles to reach the Games, or in this case, the scandalous love triangle involving Pellegrini, French rival Laure Manaudou, and Italian swimmer Luca Marin. All I know is that when this Italian gets in the water, she leaves everyone else behind.
As someone who was constantly teased by my various teammates for getting caught up in competition and taking sports very seriously, I can definitely respect someone who constantly pushes to perform, competing with no one but themselves. That’s the spirit of athleticism, and as I see it, it’s alive and well in Federica Pellegrini.
Michael Phelps, swimmer, age 23.
Again, I know nothing at all about Michael Phelps, the hotshot American swimmer. All I know is that he, and the mens’ team he belongs to for the Games, are cleaning up.
With five gold medals in five events (so far) and three more to go, he’s already set the world record for career gold medals (11 at the time of this writing) and stands a great chance to set the record for most number of golds won in a single Olympiad.
Every time he touches the water, he leaves his competitors – and his own former Olympic records – far behind him, and it’s amazing to watch.
Obviously, I’m not watching too much, I’m focused far too much instead on Nicole moving in in a few days time. Unpacking, moving clothes and belongings, etc., I simply leave the Games on in the background.
Definitely wish I could see some more of the womens football matches, I remember being especially excited by our Canadian team’s chances, particularly with the impressive play of Kara Lang (15) and Christine Sinclair (captain, 12).
And maybe it’s only me, but I feel there’s definitely something about the Olympics that always brings out the coolness in some advertisers, as illustrated by HBC’s newest campaign for their Canadian Olympic apparel. Dudes dressed entirely in black give the athletes the illusion of freeze-framing… sono fucken ace.