Even Olympic Athletes Aren’t PerfectPosted: August 20, 2008
The closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics are just around the corner and already I’m experiencing a bit of choked-up nostalgia about the thought of having to say goodbye to all the star athletes whose faces I’ve come to know and respect over the past two weeks (and who will most likely will go on to loftier endorsement deals than they might have dreamed their Olympic feats could ever carry them.)
In her most recent post, Escape from Cubicle Nation blogger Pamela Slim writes about channelling Olympic gold motivation to finish her book and how watching these superstars’ rise to excellence has transformed the way she disciplines herself and her overall work ethic.
It got me thinking to how the 2008 Olympics sharply contrasted all my previous years of watching. This might have something to do with some of the setbacks in my own life over the past year, but for the first time this year I watched athletes fall (a lot) or simply come up short either with their own goals or from the expectations others had of them.
To sum it up, I watched people we all put up on a pedestal take major spills and it took me a while to digest and make sense of all this.
I used to find these athletes infallible – incapable of human error. And while watching superhero Michael Phelps beat another athlete by 1/100th of a second was fascinating (more for technological reasons), watching U.S. gymnast Alicia Sacramone fall from grace off the balance team to dash her team’s chances of finding gold only to have her bounce back a few days later in the womens’ individuals with a stellar performance on the vault to lose to someone who couldn’t even stick the landing was somehow even more awe-inspiring because it proved that while some chapters may end without redemption in sight, the journey will go on and might even lead to better breaks.
In this year’s Olympics for the first time in history we had a 41-year-old mother compete in the highly competitive and youth-favored sport of swimming and while Gold-medal favored Dara Torres had to settle for second best with a silver in her individual race, she extended a gracious smile and a show of enthusiasm for her peer that took gold.
She also showed that getting gold or being #1 isn’t everything. Sometimes just showing up and participating and giving your all really can be enough, even if you still end up feeling less than the best.
And last but not least, pint-sized male gymnast, Jonathan Horton wins silver in the uneven bars after he daringly improvises and adds two difficult high-risk elements to his well-oiled routine at the last minute days before the competition.
His high stakes gambling antics solidifying the notion that even when everything’s in your favor, success is really one big crap shoot in the end.