Thursday, June 14, 2012

Running Has Re-Kindled My Olympic Flame

The Olympics were huge for me as a child.  I grew up during the Era when the Games only took place once every four years because both the summer and winter games were held in the same year.  They only thing that I remember from the 1980 Winter Olympics was the craziness following The Miracle on Ice, but I'd be lying to say that I understood the importance of the event or even cared.  I was seven, and the Empires Strikes Back, which was coming out later that spring was about the only thing that cared about.  And, the summer games taught me the word boycott and that there was a place called Afghanistan.
Sam the Olympic Eagle

However, by 1984 all that had changed.  I watched nearly every moment that I could of the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo.  I couldn't get enough.  The US vs. USSR during the last days of the cold war made every event an issue of national pride.  My passion for the games hit a zenith in the summer of '84 with the game in LA.  The Olympic Torch ran through my town and I still remember like it was yesterday how our teachers lead us out of class at Fleming middle school, and we walked to Fairmont Ave. to watch the torch being passed off from one runner to another.  I am sure that every kid  dreamed that one day they might carry the torch; I sure did.  Once the games came around, and the US was dominating due to the boycott each day brought more reasons to celebrate, until August 3rd, when everyone in my little town of Fairmont, WV huddled around there TV to Mary Lou Retton, a girl from our town, bring home the gold medal in the Women's all-around with a perfect 10 on her vault.  The next day, you could not buy gold ribbon anywhere in North-Central West Virginia. Everything and everyone in town had gold ribbons attached to it, and I could never imagine that my love for the Olympic games would ever fade, but it did.  By 1988, I was in my teens and it just wasn't the same.  Then the USSR broke up and the Eastern Block fell apart, so the games were no longer a cold war battlefield.  By the 90's I was all into grunge music and professionals were playing causing controversies about, which sporting brand Micheal Jordan would or wouldn't wear and the Reebok Dan vs. Dave marketing bust.  And, could just care less about anything other Pearl Jam Ten and girls.

Over the years, my interest in the Olympics has ranged from minor to please stop talking about Nancy Kerrigan, Tonya Harding, French Gymnastics Judges, New Winter Events, the age of Chinese gymnasts, and anything to do with Dream Teams or Steroids!  However, over the last few years my transformation from non-runner to RunNERD had brought the Olympics back into my consciousness.  I've been devouring all the information that I can find on the US Tack & Field Team.  Of course, my focus is mostly on the Marathon, where I think that either Desiree Davila or Shalane Flanagan could end up shocking the world and bringing home the gold.  As for the men, I haven't pegged my hopes to any one of the American yet because I think that all three have the potential to run a great race.  For the first time since I was 10 or 11 years old, I am eagerly anticipation the games thanks to running, and more importantly running and the Olympics is allowing me to revisit a joy filled part of my life that I had mostly forgotten.  I know these Olympic Games won't feel like it did in '84, but 2012 doesn't have feel 1984 for me to enjoy the games.  What is important is that for the first time in a long time, I feel the spirit of the Olympics.

BTW: does anyone else remember Animal Olympics?  I loved that cartoon movie . . .

1 comment:

  1. I've always been enamored with the games, but more specifically I've always loved watching the gymnastics, skating, and tennis. I have watched all the other sports, even the running, at times but they just never did it for me because I was not an overly athletic person. This year though, I'm stoked for the summer games and can't wait to watch them!!! Bring on the marathon!!!