Thursday, August 21, 2008

Citius Altius Fortius - Faster, Higher, Stronger

I’m not a sports person. My idea of a game involves cards and me winning a lot of money. So being brought up in an Indian family, where people including my grandmother yelled at Kapil Dev for a bad delivery, had an effect on me. I tried to lean away from any physical activity which was not part of my daily routine as much as possible. I wasn’t even deterred when my mother brought out her Table Tennis champion’s cup, or my dad his memories of heading the cricket team. I didn’t even cringe when my games teacher shook her head sadly, when I couldn’t even pick up the shot put, let alone throw it a couple of hundred meters, like my sister could. So it was a family joke, when I became captain of a house team in school and had to attend the early morning tryouts for basket ball or volleyball. Considering my height, I just stood around in the basket ball court waiting near the basket, till someone handed me the ball. Then I just reached up and threw it in. However my team mates had to position me on their side, or I might just have thrown in the other teams basket with no clue that I was in the wrong placement. When I met K, a cricket enthusiast who represented school and college and has a cupboard full of tournament cups and India blazers, my only question was if I could own the remote of the house, so ESPN will be played to the minimal. I think his agreement, was one of the reasons, I agreed to the marriage: D !
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

"Now you think I'm exaggerating about pollution, but they had a practice today in Beijing for the Olympics and a javelin thrower threw the javelin up into the air and it stuck." --David Letterman
"China is upset because somebody leaked a video of the rehearsal for the Olympics Opening Ceremony on the Internet. I don't want to give away too much, but it ends with the lighting of a torch." --Conan O'Brien"

"President Bush will be in China for the Olympics. He's gonna be there for the opening ceremonies, and also, while he's there, he will be searching for 'Lo Mein of Mass Destruction.'" --David Letterman

"Yesterday, President Bush gave the U.S. Olympic team a rousing send-off to the Olympics. Again, I don't think President Bush is that up on geography. Like he told the athletes to get there a couple of days early to acclimate themselves to the fact that China is upside-down" --Jay Leno

"And China says it will ban entertainers they deem a threat to the government from taking part in any activities during the Olympics. You make fun of the government, you'll be banned from the Olympics, to which Bush said, "You can do that?" --Jay Leno

"And human rights activists have sent a letter to President Bush, asking him to raise human rights issues with the Chinese government during the Olympics. Unfortunately, they also sent a letter to the Chinese government asking them to bring up human rights issues with President Bush. So, it's pretty much a wash." --Jay Leno

Keep Smiling people


Blogger uma kumar said...

hi anu,
me first,
i too share ur opinion about watching nadia comenci and her perfect 10 and thought gymnastcis is easy .
It was so graceful to watch gymnasts from USSR and win medals for the country is nostalgic indeed.

'Trying to get through 100 metres in 9 seconds, is crazy, but enjoying the run is even crazier"
God watching Bolt is an experience like my hubby said...see he is just walking before the final mark and enjoying and celebrating his own win..he has time for all that within those 9 secs.

Our Bindra did us proud..he showed his gold to his pets and they didnot bother much abt his blog to know more

10:52 PM  
Blogger Prashant Sree said...

Hi Anu,

Hats off to you for being a GOA(Global Olympian Audience). Iam glad i came across the blog. its amazing to see a person being interested in so many athletes from other countries.

From Nadia Comaneci who defied the saying "Nobody can be Perfect" to the Chinese,Russian Gymnast, you have got a good taste for appreciating human talents !!

Coming to Athletics and Swimming, this Olympic version has written the whole concept of Games and competition. Usain , Phelps, its not just winning a gold medal, its more than that. Its about perseverance,hard work and the greatness of human spirit. :)

And thanks to you, i got to learn new names of few Gymnast. I would appreciate if you could share your views about my blog .

Keep sharing and growing.


12:24 AM  
Blogger Fantasies of a Lifetime said...

I would never understand how gymnasts make themselves so flexible!. . .I am so happy that we finally won a gold in the olympics :D. Loved the jay leno quotes...he is quite amazing isnt he?. .Have u seen his add cum song on campaigning?

8:49 PM  
Blogger SMM said...

That is so true....for the first time Sushil Kumar & Vijender Kumar were on the front page instead of the cricketers. The cricketers make so much money and they have the best of facilities, despite that they generally crash out. On the contrary ppl like Sushil Kumar & Vijender Kumar have the worst of facilities and little money. They are in the sport for the love of it and that's why they reach till bronze. I am sure if we invested some money in them they will win the gold for us next time.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Olympics convey one thing to the strong and determined we all can be as humans, regardless of where we come from.


11:07 PM  
Blogger MAN IN PAINTING said...

very thoughful and cool post..
me have a new post..

7:31 AM  
Blogger Anu said...

@Uma: Thanks for letting me know abt Bindra's blog.. didnt know he had one

@Prashant:Thanks but im a long way from a sports buff, its just a few events which make me sit in one place

@Vishnupriya:I havent seen the song, will look for it on Utube

@SMM: We need a change in mindset too.. how many parents will truly support a youngsters interest in a sport outside cricket?

@Keshi:Your absolutely right

@MIP: Thanks and will visit :) !

11:30 AM  
Blogger CM-Chap said...

Not in to sports but a house captain.. LOL. Did you bribe?

Ha Ha Poor K :-)

5:56 PM  
Blogger Fantasies of a Lifetime said...


9:35 AM  
Blogger Rushabhh Gandhi said...

Nice Connectivity.....
Sports, gymnastics, olympics, you, your family affairs with sports...
I dont know whether it was intentional or not but initial part of the post and the finishing part were very humorous...WoW! Thank you for sharing and giving some light moments for me to live on....

10:25 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

hows u Anu? :)


10:36 PM  
Blogger Rajesh said...

Hi Anu...firstly, ur reason for accepting the marriage proposal was a comedy...i seriously laughed...was a nice joke...dunno if it was intended..
anyways ya..Bindra made us feel proud as an Indian...does he have a blog?? gortta chk out that too...

p.S: Blog updated

9:22 AM  
Blogger Keshi said...

Come and collect ur award Anu :)


11:45 PM  
Blogger Scribblers Inc said...

how come I never get any awards??:(

Scribblers Inc.

3:59 AM  

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