Olympic fever that is. Everything about the Olympics is exciting. From the pomp of the opening ceremonies to the repetition of John Williams’ Olympic theme to the amazing feats of strength, I love it all. I even enjoy the vignettes about hardscrabble athletes that rise from adversity to become champions. Many people grumble that the vignettes are just filler, but they serve to remind me that the athletes are just like me, albeit ten years younger and about one hundred times more talented. Surely if my parents had given me the opportunity there would be a heavy gold medal on my mantel right now.
While I love everything about the Olympics, that love does not spread to all sports. My interest lies mostly with the big-ticket contests that receive the majority of the television coverage. Bring on the swimming, diving, and gymnastics. No matter how hard I try I cannot feign interest in beach volleyball, cycling, or sailing.
Diving and gymnastics impress me in large part because neither is simply a contest of speed or strength, but rather a test of combining those basics with body manipulation. I mean, how do they get their bodies to twist and turn like that? I can’t even touch my toes let alone jump in the air and do three and a half twists.
This year the hometown favorite in gymnastics is Gabby Douglas. And though she is not originally from the area, she now lives and trains here in Des Moines at Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance Institute. And like previous hometown favorite and Chow's alumna Shawn Johnson, Douglas is a serious medal contender and our state is definitely rooting for her. Aside from Gabby, my gymnastics interest has shifted to the men’s competition. The height that the competitors get on the high bar is absolutely incredible and that event alone is reason enough to watch.
While it is understood that the Olympics is largely a cash cow with some political undercurrents, I choose to enjoy it for what it is at its’ very simplest: an opportunity for athletes who have trained for years to get the opportunity to prove that they are among the best in the world.
Get ready for some serious Olympic action because the opening ceremonies are July 27th. I know where I'll be that night.