The London Olympics grew on me. You might have had the same experience. When I was young, the whole world became wrapped around the Olympics. Everyone watched it on television and Olympic winners were household names. While some champions still achieve that—Michael Phelps, obviously— it's not like back in the day. Today the thrill of Olympic victory does not necessarily grab everybody.
There was something special, though, about this Olympics. It was full of hope, expectancy, magic. Imaginations were totally open, ready to receive, ready to dream the impossible. While, as with every competition there were losers, this year's event was a breath of fresh air, especially for America. We dominated. A hundred and four medals. Our closest competitor, China, had only eighty-eight. China earned thirty-eight gold; Great Britain, twenty-nine; Russia, twenty-four; Korea, five. America earned forty-six gold and has much to be proud of.
From Michael Phelps' heroic rebound after losing the 200 meter butterfly, yet going on to earn five more gold medals, making 19 total, breaking the all-time Olympic record. Then Missy Franklin's amazing achievements as a first-time Olympian.
Who will forget the Fab Five's spectacular showmanship that earned America the first team gold in gymnastics since 1996. Or Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings' amazing final hard-fought battle against the Chinese to win their third Olympics game and end their careers with triumph. And their emotional goodbye to the Olympic world.
|Oscar Pistorius, South African double amputee|
While all this was happening, the men's and the women's American basketball teams were wiping the floor with their stiff competition and our women runners whizzed over the ground, earning almost all the golds and breaking some major records at the same time. In fact, American women, overall, performed at an extraordinarily high level.
Magic was happening at those Olympics games. Athletes dreamed the impossible, then achieved it. Sportsmanship and cooperation was everywhere.
The level of of these qualities expressed by American athletes struck a big blow to my growing cynical attitude about my country. Yes, many of today's leaders are morality tales for the consequence of greed, arrogance, and self-righteousness, but these young people demonstrate remarkable levels of graciousness, balancing their self-interest with the interests of their teammates and their competitors. If these kind of people are coming up to take the torch of our country's guidance, I think the future of our country will eventually be just fine..
These guys and gals made me proud, and when they sang the National Anthem tears rushed to my eyes. I was unexpectedly deep-down proud to be an American. That hasn't happened in a long time.
What about you? If you watched the Olympics. what kind of impact did it have on you? Did you feel that much of it was magic? Not only from our own countrymen, but from the athletes representing other countries?
Many people think the Olympics are all about competition and lording it over the loser. I didn't see any of that. Did you? Perspectives vary widely, so let me hear.