I am an all-sports junkie. At nearly every time of the year, there will be a athletic season in progress or an event going on that makes that time of the year “the best” for sports watching. And every four years this season – Olympics season – trumps them all.
As the London Games have edged closer, I have thought long and hard about what my favorite Olympic moment is. But, just like I hear a mother can’t really have a favorite offspring, I can’t have just one favorite moment – I have some memorable moments that particularly resonate in my memory banks when my mind drifts to Olympic competition.
I’ll remember Mary Lou Retton competing in what proves to be my first real Olympic memories. When those perfect 10s flashed on my screen and the Los Angeles crowd erupted, I knew my young self had just witnessed a rare feat of strength and determination from someone barely twice my age. When the slight in stature 16-year-old waved to the television and later pumped her fists in victory on that distinctive orange Wheaties box, I knew I was hooked.
In those same games, I can envision a less-than-triumphant, moment in Olympic history, as the picture of a barefoot Zola Budd appears running around the track, colliding into Mary Decker and being blamed for taking out the American darling of the race. Later in my timeline, I can see Marion Jones triumphantly racing around the track, only to later have to make a fateful confession on the steps of the U.S. District Court.
A quick digression to the wintertime scenes of Dan Jansen making his way around the the speed skating track sometimes in heartbreak and others in triumph make me appreciate not just sports, but family. I hearken back to the all-too-familiar Kerri Strug scene as she vaulted so hobbled that she had to be carried to the medal podium by Bela Kyrolyi after helping bring home the Olympic gold for another kind of family, her Olympic team.
The days of the Dream Team had me pining to be juuust a little bit (or a lot, actually) taller so I could duplicate the jaw-dropping plays from Michael Jordan and Co. At the same time the men were dominating the competition the U.S. women backpedaled to the bronze. Four years later the women started their current string of four-consecutive gold medals, and now I allow myself to wonder which team is really all that dreamy; perhaps it’s the impressive dynasty being built by the women of the red, white and blue.
Jason Lezak made me yell at the television, urging the swimmer to anchor the men’s 4×100 meter freestyle team past the French. And when the touch of the wall was .08 seconds ahead of France the desperate urgings to swim faster turned into cheers for the jubilant U.S. men as I danced around the living room.
Goosebumps filled my skin as Muhammad Ali lit the flame in Atlanta and sadness filled my face when the news of the Centennial Olympic Park bombing was broadcast. Moments of recognition lit up my mind when Beijing proudly hosted the Games and I wandered back to my first experiences overseas in China.
I could go on and on and on, and still forget some of my favorites just because there are so many to choose from and so many more still to be made.
For the next month, I will sit riveted to my seat for hours on end watching sports I barely knew existed all in the name of the Olympics. I will half-sleep, half-watch into the wee hours of the morning as Bob Costas rehashes the day’s results and interviews the winners, still with a giddy smile, a twinkle in their eye and a medal around their neck. I will become an aficionado of sorts on the ins and outs of the competition, the venue and the athletes participating. I will sometimes find myself crying tears of joy with the victors as they proudly belt out their national anthem mixed with tears of defeat with other athletes who who’s mind or body falters at the most inopportune time in their sporting career.
For me, nearly every Olympic moment becomes a memorable one, regardless of the gender, sport or even sometimes country represented, as the often joyous but sometimes bittersweet impressions from the Games are emblazoned in my mind. The best moments are sometimes learning the little-known stories about what drives these athletes to punish their bodies year after year for the sport they love, seeing the pride of fellow countrymen eager to wave the flag of their homeland and witnessing the camaraderie that crosses the language barrier as competitors join together on the medal stand. The Olympic season is a spectacular one and I’m excitedly anticipating each new athlete who is bound to take up residence in my already chock-full noggin.
What is your most memorable Olympic moment?
Celebrate the most compelling moments in Summer Games history with ‘Memorable Moments’ on Yahoo! Sports. Re-live moments such as Nadia Comaneci’s perfect 10s in Montreal, Michael Phelps’ record eight gold medals in Beijing, Carl Lewis’ unforgettable four gold medals in Los Angeles, the spectacular success of the 1992 US Dream Team, Muhammad Ali in Rome and Atlanta, and any more!
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