serendipitous reflections

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Roller Coaster

Once again my day was filled with the Olympics. Watching the Men's All Around Gymnastics was an emotional roller coaster. The commentators had been saying that this competition was going to come down to tenths, maybe even thousandths. And it did. Paul Hamm won gold by beating the South Korean Kim Dae-Eun by .012.

Hop in the roller coaster car and let's go on the ride... Paul executed his first three apparatuses beautifully (chug, chug, up the hill), then he came to the vault. On his landing he fell, and by fell I mean he fell on his butt, off the mat, and a judge had to put his hand out so Paul would not fall off the platform. (and zoom down the hill - like when your stomach feels like it is in your mouth where you think you are going to be sick) I had tears running down my face when I saw this happen. It pains me to see an athlete work their whole life for this one moment in time, and then to have a fluke happen like this.....I just couldn't imagine what was going through his head. (So here we are back at the bottom of the hill) Paul not only has to get passed his score that he just received, he has to get this out of his head (chug, chug, chug up the hill). He had the parallel bars and the high bar left. He needed to be near perfect and for the people ahead of him to make some mistakes. He executed the two routines perfectly, and the people ahead of him did make some mistakes. And after he finished his high bar routine, he had a smile on his face like he knew he had done something big tonight. He actually didn't know how big. He thought maybe the bronze, but no way the gold. When his score came up he still didn't know that he would be standing on top of the podium, wearing his olive branch wreath upon his head, and wearing Olympic gold around his neck ( you're at the top of hill, knowing that you have to come down, but how will it be?). His coach said "It's gold. You are the all around champion." All he could say was "NO, No, no, really?" (And weeeeeeeeeeeee down the hill again, but this time with your hands up in air, screaming, and you can't wait to do it again). It was truly an amazing night!

Now in the world of Women's swimming - The American women were golden the 4x200m free relay. They shattered the record, which was set exactly 17 years ago (the oldest swimming record). Natalie Coughlin is a force to be wreckened with and Kaitlin Sandeno is only getting better. For Pete sake, Kaitlin had already swam in a final earlier in the evening, and still had enough to steam to anchor this relay team to a victory. It was a beautiful race to watch!

In the world of singles tennis, Andy Roddick and Venus Williams were both defeated. That just doesn't happen.

Water polo is a sport that I have never ever really watched until these Olympics. I'm 100% on the rules, but man does it move fast. I am really enjoying these matches.

I really didn't get a chance to talk about one of my favorite female athletes, Jenny Thompson. Unfortunately, she just slipped in and out of these Olympics. She is a talented swimmer and a gracious person. Jenny retired from swimming, and was going to medical school when she got the itch, as she says. So after being out of the sport of two years, she came back and at the age of 31 she qualified for her fourth and probably her final Olympics. She is the most decorated American female in history. She currently has 10 metals (8 gold, 1 silver, and 1 bronze) and the possiblity for 2 more which would make her the most decortated American athlete in the Olympics. I know I will miss seeing Jenny in the pool at the next Olympics, but what a ride she has had!! She is an inspiration!


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