Citius Altius Fortius - Faster, Higher, Stronger
Whenever there was any kind of sports on TV, I would be the one with my nose buried in the latest novel or magazine. Of course, when computers and college entered my life, it became simpler to just ignore that part of life. But there has always been a weakness for one sport, that I harbor secretly -“Gymnastics”. My memories run back to the day, when USSR ruled the events. Long limbed graceful ladies, who could a somersault and look like a dainty princess doing it. The men on the rings, with their bulging muscles pretty much made up my picture of prince charming. Be it early morning or late nights, I would sit in front of the TV, gazing at the floor gymnast blending ballet and acrobatics to give us an awe inspiring performance. I have to confess, that I did try out for the gymnastics at the school gym. This was after I saw the Nadia Comaneci Story on TV , on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Her perfect 10 against all odds, made me think that I could do it too and I spent the rest of the afternoon, trying to stand upside down on my bed , and must say thats a bad idea after sunday lunch . But one look at the warm up process (running around the gym for 5 minutes) tired me out. That’s when I realized that sports required total dedication – heart, mind and soul. It did make me respect my parents more and I became cordial to my sister (for a week, till she told my mother I was reading novels hidden behind my science text ! ).
So coming back to the present, I have been stuck to the television the last week, looking for every event involved in gymnastics finals. China and USA dominating every event, I have however been cheering for the countries which made up the former USSR. May be it’s a pull back to my teenage days or a chance to remember my fantasy prince charming, whatever the reason, I was saddened by their dismal performance. China on the other hand, were scary to watch. Huang Yubin, the China Men’s head coach looked like Hitler watching his troops off for battle. If I had a coach like that, I’m sure I would shoot myself rather than meet him after loosing the event. So its not surprising, that the Chinese gymnasts had a gleam of steel in their eyes , when they attempted each event. Yang Wei, the all round men’s gold medalist looked more like one of warriors from the Great Wall than an athlete. He is someone, who I'm sure even Arnold Swarchenegger wouldn’t say “I’ll be back” to. The US Girls also showed same the steely resolve. Nastia Liukin , the womans overall Gold medalist from the US, could probably slay dragons with her gaze and her legs.But I’m sure her dad, the older Olympian would be there to give her tips to where the dragon had a week spot. I must say though Shawn Johnson, the silver medalist gave me hope. A stocky 16 year old, looked not like a typical gymnasts, but her routines were amazing. For all people who think that the gymnasts are long limbed wonders, this girl proved them wrong by coming in a shorter dynamite package.
I also did get hooked on the running and swimming part of the competition this time . The Jamaicans, especially Usain Bolt blew my mind. The best part is they look like they enjoy running , which in my mind is an oxymoron. Trying to get through 100 metres in 9 seconds, is crazy, but enjoying the run is even crazier. I hyperventilate in cold water , so Michael Phelps in the swimming events also took my breath away. That man has to searched for a pair of gills or he is testament to the fact that there has been a mixture of an amphibian with a homo sapien in some bloodlines. Let me not forget my country heroes, Abhinav Bhindra and Kumar Sushil.. way to go guys.!! I also have to take my hat off to the atheletes who are older like 33-year-old gymnast Oksana Chusovitina from Germany and 31 old hurdle bronze medalists Tasha Danvers from GBR . Those woman give the ones who like me are facing the big 30 hope in the next couple of years, hope that we can look perform and look good while doing it.
This year however I did notice ,that the competition had indeed turned global. We had Romanian immigrants in Gymnastics for USA , people of Asian decent playing for Brazil, Canada and west countries. In the 80's, you saw blond hair and blue eyes and assumed they were Russian or the western countries but now with the mix and movement of the people across the globe, this event has truly become a global showcase. It has a lot to do with national pride, but what comes across more is the hard work and dedication that these individuals have towards their chosen sport. Even if an athlete you don’t know , falls off the beam or had a bad landing, you cringe because you feel some of their pain. As a commentator described , these men and women, work in anonymity for 4 years, to showcase their talent across two weeks. Their work is a true testament to the spirit of human nature and endurance. I salute all these athletes and I think this statement by Pierre de Coubertin on the revival of Olympics games ( which I read in my 8th grade English lesson) sums it up not only for the Olympics but life as well
“The important thing in life is not victory but combat; it is not to have vanquished but to have fought well.”
For the smile from couple of the late night hosts !
"There's excitement in the air over the Olympics...also lead, arsenic, benzene." --David Letterman
"Beijing skies are so polluted that Chinese authorities are planning emergency measures for the Olympics. For example, protesters will now only be run over with hybrid tanks." --Jay Leno
Keep Smiling people