(I'm sure many of you will go OMG WALL OF TEXT and run away but you know how often I make a blog so I hope you can all find a time to read this eventually. Thanks)
The will of an athlete, the heart of a champion, the resilience of Olympian. The TV commericals are not wrong. Bob Costas is not wrong. Morgan Freeman is not wrong.
These past 17 days I have witnessed some amazing things.
I watched a young man, diagnosed with ADHD, once ridiculed and made fun of for his large ears and his body shape, win 8 gold medals and smash 7 World Records. A man who with a grin of pure happiness told the world, I have completed all I could hope for and I now know who my true friends are.
I watched a woman from Great Britain, suffering from a stress fracture in one leg and a recovering from a sprained ankle in the other, through will, pain, suffering and sheer determination finish 4th in the Olympic Marathon. That's 26.2 miles ON A BUSTED LEG and a sore ankle. She didn't win, but that isn't the point.
I watched a young woman from South Africa, a former Olympic swimmer who had lost her leg in a car accident, compete in the open water swimming competition. That's 6.2 miles in the ocean on one fricken leg!!! She finished in 9th place, but that isn't that point.
I watched an american man return to the Olympics to compete in the decathalon after finishing 2nd place 4 years ago, after having lead in Athens after 9 events crumble in the final event to take Silver. I watched him this time around be able to take a victory lap in the last running event, after having worked his butt off these past four years and create a lead so large after nine events that he was already the champion at the start of the 10th. His victory, while amazing and inspiration ALSO isn't the point.
I watched two women from warring countries, Georgia and Russia, share the podium as the Gold and Silver medal winners. They smile, share a hug and walk off together talking. Despite the negative opinion from one of the countries the women reveal in a later interview that they have become good friends and that all that other stuff doesn't matter. THIS IS PART OF THE POINT!
What thee people work for practically their entire lives is not a chance to win a Gold Medal, it's not to win a medal at all. The pride of walking into that stadium during opening day is a victory for 99% of the Olympians that competed these past 2 1/2 weeks. All they want, is the chance to push themselves beyond the view of what normal human limitations are perceived as. And so they did.
I have watched every single nighttime broadcast of these Olympics and many of the daytime ones. Why? Because I have come to realize what these Olympic "games" truly mean. We have a chance to watch humanity at it's finest. We put everything aside and compete with one another as equals on equal ground with equal opportunity. It doesn't matter how many Golds we win, what the medal count is, or even the age of the Chinese Gymnasts. What matters is that these people are bestowed the greatest honor one can hope for, representing their country, knowing that the population of that country is watching them, rooting for them and believing in them to give it their all.
But what most people don't understand, I think, is the opportunity that it presents to us normal citizens as fans. I will never forget, EVER, the night of the 4X100 relay swimming event. My best friend and I are sitting on his bed watching for Phelps to get another gold medal. "It's in the bag" we say to each other. But as the final leg, Jason Lezak, jumps into the pool a small amount of doubt creeps in. An entire 1 1/2 body lengths separate him and the World Record holder whom he is trying to catch. Until I say "Dude look, he catching up." At the turn he had made up half the distance and as he inched closer and closer I could feel myself getting more and more excited. Both of us on the edge of your seats holding our breath and with a huge surge in the last 10 meters Lezak touches the wall, winning by .01 seconds, my friend and I leap from the bed fists pumping. And then I stop...and I think about what is happening. To become totally enthralled in the moment, pulling for your country against all odds. There isn't a cooler moment one can experience.
I did watch every single minute I could of the Olympics, heck it only comes once every four years. I hope you all appreciated what went on, and if not maybe next time you will be able to enjoy the splendor of what competition at an Olympic level can do for a country and for one single citizen of a nation, me, who for 17 days became apart of what those athletes were trying to accomplish. I felt the joy and the sorrow, tears and the smiles, the pain and the taste of victory. And I will never, EVER forget it. Thanks for reading this :)