Monday, August 6, 2012

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat, The Weirdness of the Athletes

I've confessed before my addiction to the Olympics.  I really do think I would watch basket weaving if they made it a medal sport.

One of my most favorite things about the Olympics is the coverage of the individual athletes and their stories.

The backgrounds, the pictures of them training as kids, the obstacles they have overcome, the struggles and sacrifices to get where they are.

Some of them, you want to root for immediately just because of the way they can captivate an audience.  Others make you sit on the edge of your seat and cheer only after you get to know their story.

Gabby Douglas was the best gymnast, not just from the United States, but in the world.  Regardless of the fact that she was young and relatively untested.  Regardless of the fact that she was never welcomed with open arms by her teammates in the way she should have been.  Regardless of the fact that she wasn't the captain of the team.  Regardless of the fact that others who stood next to her were the media darlings before the Games and got all the press.  Regardless of the fact that she wasn't the one to beat.

None of that mattered.  She got it done.  And every girl out there who ever fell victim to the mean girls won with her. I've been rooting for her since I saw the way she was treated at the US Team Qualifier, and now she's the gymnastics sweetheart.  Go, Gabby, Go.

Oscar Pistorius lost yesterday, coming in last in the final heat he would run in these Olympics.  He wasn't the favorite.  No one thought he would win a medal, probably including him.  He truly was one of the thousands of athletes that goes to the Olympics knowing they won't compete at the highest level, but who are honored to represent their country.  Most likely, he would have been treated like all the rest of those athletes by the media if it wasn't for the fact that he made history just by being there.

Pistorius is a double amputee, and competed against a field of able bodied, two legged men.  He was fast.  Faster than almost everyone the world, as a matter of fact.  His humility and kindness, his strength and determination, his overwhelmingly charming personality, all makes him a winner already.  He doesn't need a medal to get into the history books.  He doesn't need to win to inspire millions of people around the world.

I've been a little put off by those who actually claim he has an advantage.  I have a hard time with anyone who could actually make that argument seriously.  As the daughter of an amputee, I know more about the subject than I ever thought I would have to, and I know that the level of effort required just to walk is significant for a single amputee, let alone a double.

To Pistorius, I say this: Congratulations, and thank you.

Finally, I have to share this.  I've been a sports fan my entire life, and I've seen some pretty strange rituals carried out by athletes, but this right here takes the cake.

Leo Manzano licks his fingers and rubs saliva in many strange places.  I'm not sure what the reasoning is for this, and I looked online to see if there was a story about it.  No luck.  In the meantime, we're calling him Leo the Licker.  His eccentricities just earned him a few new fans in this house.  We like to keep things weird around here.


  1. I had no idea Gabby was mean girled. What would I do without you?

    The licking thing? Probably something one of us would pick up.

    1. Leo the Licker...that's just good stuff right there. Good stuff.


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