Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

August 3, 2012

Olympic Games make dreams come

GLASGOW — It was a beautiful day in London when my husband and I stepped out of the North Greenwich underground station and saw the massive structure of the North Greenwich Arena (O2 Arena) for the first time. Bright orange and pink banners leading up to the arena proclaimed “London 2012” and displayed pictures of the Olympic rings and the sporting events that would be taking place in the arena over the coming weeks.

There are not many times in your life when you can look around and think, “This is a dream come true.” But for Dave and me, and thousands of people around us that day, it actually was a dream come true.

There are a lot of things to criticize about the Olympics. I have a few horror stories from my trip, and we have seen some of the criticisms in the news. But no event on this planet brings together more people, from more countries, with a broader range of interests, than the Olympics. No event makes more dreams come true. Not just for those athletes blessed with the ability to earn a gold medal, but for all those average people who simply want to witness the glory.

It was almost a whim that led Dave and me to purchase plane tickets to Great Britain this summer. We got married in January, and had already spent a weekend at the Grand Canyon as our first honeymoon. But a three-hour car ride a few weeks after our wedding got us talking about Dave’s relatives in England and Wales. He is first-generation American on his dad’s side, so nearly all of his paternal relatives live overseas. One thing led to another, and we planned an 11-day trip to meet all his relatives and attend the Olympics for the first time.

Gymnastics is my favorite Olympic event, and lucky for us, it was also an event we could afford and it fit nicely into the dates of our trip. So there we were that Saturday afternoon, with our hard-earned tickets in hand and ready to make a dream come true.

The mood in the arena was intense. For so many of us, this was the first, and possibly the last, time we would ever witness the Olympics firsthand. Before the event, we watched inspirational and informational videos about the Olympics and gymnastics, getting everyone up to speed on the logistics of the sport and pumping us up for what we were about to see.

Even after years of watching Olympic gymnastics on TV, I was completely unprepared for the format of the event. Through the eyes of a TV cameraman, with close cropping and select sound bites, the television audience gets the impression that all eyes are on each individual competitor as he springs over the vault or flies through the air over the horizontal bar. In fact, all eyes are split in seven directions all at once, as the crowd tries to absorb each athlete and the scoreboard all at the same time.

The Italian on the floor has to maintain complete focus even when the crowd groans at the Japanese man who just fell off the horizontal bar or cheers wildly for the American who just delivered a stunning performance on the still rings. Each athlete has to realize that in fact, it is not all about him during his routine. “I was distracted,” is not an acceptable excuse.

I came away from the session with an even greater appreciation for what each of those athletes goes through, and I came away from the weekend with a greater appreciation of all that the Olympics are. Despite the dark spots, the Olympics are the only thing we have that comes close to focusing completely on patriotism, unity and tolerance. There are not many things in this world that are better than witnessing the joy on an athlete’s face as he nails the routine he has worked so many years to perfect, or the cheerful insanity of a crowd celebrating the belief that in that moment, they are the best in the world.

We all hope that at some point in our lives, we will reach the pinnacle. Whether it is the pinnacle of athleticism, the pinnacle of success, the pinnacle of happiness or whatever pinnacle our dreams reside on, we each deserve that moment. To all those who have their dreams come true this month at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, I am happy for them, and I look forward to the next time in my life when one of my dreams come true.

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