I’ve been actively watching the Olympics since 1976 which would have made me 13 years old; one year younger than one of the most impressive gymnasts of my lifetime – Nadia Comaneci. That year she became the first woman to ever score a perfect 10 in an Olympic Gymnastic event. I was absolutely enthralled with that Russian fireball-force who would not only take over the stage floor, but she would also take over our hearts.
I can distinctly remember watching it on television at our neighbor’s house for a couple of nights. I have no real memory as to why we were watching it from there but either way, it was quite the experience, watching it like that with other people – everyone who was just as excited as I was.
From that year forward I have been one of the biggest fans of watching the greatest of the great performing their hearts out every four years – to prove they are the best at what they do, in the world.
Fast forward to the year 1996 and I was in Phoenix Arizona for the week, traveling with my job. I was staying at a hotel in downtown Phoenix when the Olympic torch runners came through – and as I looked out the window – I realized I was a part of history. Had I known earlier that where I was would be one of the points of attraction, I would have been front and center. But as it was a surprise, I watched from my window on the fourth floor in total amazement to that which I was bearing witness to.
That same summer, weeks later, I would find out that their run would also bring them through our little hometown of Leesburg Georgia! I cannot even tell you how excited I was to know they would be right at my finger-tips – even if the time schedule turned out to be 5:00am.
I got up EXTREMELY early that morning and put my 1 year old in a stroller, and me and my baby and my 10 year old walked up to the main highway that dumped into my neighborhood, and waited with the rest of the crowds that lined the main street into our little town. It was still dark of course, so it was a magical moment in time when they came running down the road, with side cars flashing lights for their protection, and that one lone person in front carrying the lit torch.
That same summer the Olympics final destination was Atlanta, Georgia, but even just our little parlay of participation would make it such a memorable experience.
Today ends the first week of two weeks total and I’ve already stayed-up WAY past my bedtime every night just trying to cram in all the watching I possibly can.
To watch the jubilation and the tears as they compete gives you a window into lives that strive for true excellence with every breath they take. It’s certainly a privilege to be able to see all of that – I hope you’ve been watching with me. GO USA!!!