Friday, August 10, 2012

Highlights and Lowlights ~ A picture of life's struggles

The Olympics are drawing to a close. Soon the flame will be extinguished and all the the athletes will return to their own countries and resume their lives.

For some that life will be the same. They'll work, practice, strive to be better and faster while dealing with the other family and survival stuff that life requires.

For many others, life has been irrevocably changed. Some will have the glow of accomplishment pushing them to new heights, new experiences, and abundant opportunities. Others will start a new life without relentless athletic pursuit, but with the satisfaction of a job well done.

Then there are the ones who didn't quite succeed, at least not by some standards. The ones who have to decide whether or not to pour four more years of blood, sweat, and tears into their sport. Can they get closer to their dream? Is it worth it?

The Ups

One of my favorite thing about the Olympics is seeing the great accomplishments. Some of my favorite moments from the London games:

May and Walsh in Beijing Olympics
Wikimedia Commons
       - Great Britain's gymnastics men winning the bronze medal.
       - Missy Franklin's first gold medal
       - Women's gymnastics team gold including that amazing vault by McKayla Maroney.
       - Aly Raisman's gold on the floor event finals - stunning routine!
       - Grenada's first medal ever - and it was gold!
       - Mo Farah winning the 10,000m run with his US training partner in second.
       - The double amputee from South Africa making the semi-finals in the 400m race.
       - Walsh-Jennings and May-Traenor winning their third gold medal.
       - The handful of women from countries that had never before sent women to the games.
       - Great Britain's celebration after coming in first and second in the two-man white-water canoeing
       - Phelps. 'Nuff said.

Not all of these moments were golden moments, but for the people living them they were accomplishments beyond anything they'd dreamed of before.

The Olympics are full of moments like that. People who are thrilled just to be there. Athletes who do their personal best, even if that wasn't enough to make the finals.

The Downs

McKayla Maroney
Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately, when there is a winner, there is also a loser. And while there are people ecstatic just to get on the podium there are many athletes that had golden dreams, a desire to hear their national anthem played for millions because they had excelled.

Some of the hardest moments to watch in these games?

       - Jordan Weiber missing the all-around, though points for coming back and busting it out in the team finals!
       - McKayla Maroney landing on her backside in the vault finals.
       - The USA men losing in the beach volleyball semi-finals
       - The woman from Qatar pulling up injured in the 100m prelims
       - All of the other people for whom injuries kept them from even finishing their Olympic moment
       - The US men falling apart in the gymnastics finals
       - The disqualified badminton players

The Olympic Spirit

But that's part of the Olympics. The ups, the downs, and everything in between. The disappointment would not be so bitter if the reward were not so sweet. The history, the legend, the mark left on your particular sport that the Olympics allows people to achieve.

Phelps made incredible, potentially unbreakable history. Though the argument could be said that Missy Franklin has set herself up for the potential to bust his new record.

While your day to day victories might not gain national media attention or garner a small fortune around your neck, there is something to be learned from the Olympics.

Triumph is not always easily won or expected, but it should always be celebrated.

Defeat may be hard to swallow but sometimes you have to "buck up" as my dad says as get the next job done.

There is pride in the fact that, even if you didn't finish, you still beat everyone who didn't start.

What were some of your favorite or most poignant moments of the games?

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