by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
Are you an avid fan of the Olympics the way I am? Were you glued to your chair for each event? Which was your favorite? Did you cheer along national lines or get caught up in Britain’s fervor for its own? Did you root for the favorite or the underdog? The seasoned veteran or the wide-eyed first-timer? Or the REALLY seasoned veteran twice the age of competitors? Did you celebrate teamwork or pull for every individual?
|Olympic opening ceremony|
Did you gasp as gymnasts reached for a bar or tried to stick a landing? Did you chew your nails to nubs as swimmers reached for the wall in races determined by hundredths of a second? Did you marvel as world records fell, and wonder how much more the human body is capable of? Did your heart break at every DNF, knowing all the preparation that went into something that didn’t happen? Did you tear up with those who ran/swam/jumped/dived/threw/shot/rowed/rode/played/fought/performed their hearts out—to finish fourth? Were you aggravated when silver medalists were disappointed? Did you revel with those who were thrilled just to be called Olympians?
|Individual all-around gymnast Olympic champion |
Did you admire Oscar Pistorius who ran on prosthetic limbs after a five-year battle to be allowed to compete? Were you astonished by the gray-haired gymnast who restored the Bulgarian gymnastic program and performed on still rings better than most teenagers in the competition? Were you inspired by the fact that, for the first time, every nation’s team included a woman?
Did you watch breathless, sweaty athletes try to sum up their Olympic experience just seconds after finishing a race? Were you touched by the amity between teammates—and rivals? Did you listen to interviews with non-athletes or former athletes?
|Post-race interview with US swimmer |
I did all of the above. And I loved it! I take two weeks off from writing every two years (I’m a Winter Olympics fan, too) to immerse myself in the wonder of sport. But I also savor those non-sport moments. Tom Brokaw’s segment on Britain during WWII was a must-see for a history buff like me. Watching Apollo Ohno traipse around London was a kick. But one night I watched an interview that really spoke to ME.
Mary Carillo interviewed Sir Steve Redgrave, a five-time gold medalist in rowing (1984-2000). She asked him about the difficulty of returning every four years, and he said he always asked himself, “Are you going to give up or are you going to carry on?”
|Sir Steve Redgrave|
She asked him about the “sacrifice” it takes. “How do you do something like that?”
His response: “If you treated it as a sacrifice, you could only do it for a short period of time. So it has to become a love…a passion. When people talk to me about my gold medals, they want to talk about that moment of crossing the line, that moment of standing on the podium, that moment of…achievement. But actually what I look back on is the Olympiad, the four years of time in between each games. It’s the preparation. It’s the hardships. It’s a hell of a lot of commitment to put in to say, ‘Yeah, it’s just that moment that you have that medal put ‘round your neck or that moment your bow goes through the finishing line.’”
This man attained his goal—five times! And he kept going. He “carried on” because he loved what he did.
That’s the message I brought back to my desk.
No, I don’t have a medal of any kind or color. I don’t have a published book or even a contract for one, but I’m proud to call myself a writer. I love what I do. Now that the Olympics are finished, I am carrying on, following my passion, putting words on the page and heading my bow for the finishing line.
And after I cross it, I’ll begin the next race.