I love the Olympics.
I love how it elevates national pride, I love the excitement of the commentators (no one will top the class of CTV’s Brian Williams), I love how for two weeks we learn all sorts of interesting facts about the host city (Did you know its near the Victoria Memorial in front of Buckingham palace is the starting point and finishing line of the marathon?)
and of course, I love watching the athletes.
For the most part I identify with sports about as much as I identify with math…which isn’t saying a lot. I’ve been to a professional hockey game and a professional football game (even had seats at the 50 yard line) but I am usually more enthralled with watching the people in the stands than I am the players in the game. And I end up feeling like an imposter.
But the Olympics are different because my emotion for the Olympics is rooted in my childhood.
Being isolated on the farm I longed to be a part of something bigger. We only had two channels on TV, I’d plant myself in front of one and for two weeks summer sunshine play was put on hold.
The summer of 1976. The Olympics were in Montreal and a young gymnast named Nadia Comaneci had just scored the first perfect score of “10” ever given in gymnastics.
She was only fifteen.
Here was a girl, not that much older than I was, slaying other gymnasts with her perfection and poise. She showed me that young girls could be giant slayers and that confidence and calmness could reign over teenage angst and hormones.
Now, decades later, I have found a new heroine. Someone again near my own age. Clara Hughes, who as won medals in not only the winter Olympics (skating) but in the summer Olympics as well (cycling).
Showing me now that we can be women warriors at any age.
How often is there in this world an event that offers role models to us all,
no matter our age or out gender.
An event that can conjure wonderful feelings of excitement and aspiration transporting us back to a time when we felt capable of personal greatness.