Now that the Olympics are over and I can stop mindlessly flipping channels at every hour of the day looking for inspiration from some obscure Olympic sport to rationalize not working for just a little while longer, it’s time to get up from the Lazy Chair, put down the remote, go out for a run (maybe?) and review what we all learned from the best two weeks of summer television.
Lession 1: Man versus Car. I thought my beating a cyclist up Harlem Hill a while back was impressive (to me at least). Then I saw Usain Bolt revving it up to 32 m.p.h. in the 100m final on his way to obliterating the field and winning the gold medal, which got me wondering…can he really outrace a car? Is that really possible? Then, I remembered, it’s Usain Bolt. He’s fast, he’s cocky, he’s young (just 21). With him, anything is possible!
Lesson 2: Older Means Faster. Like I mentioned in my last post, thirty is indeed the new twenty, or 35 is the new 25…at least if you’re female and an aspiring Olympian. Just ask Dara Torres, Constantina Tomescu, Deena Kastor, Paul Radcliffe, and a whole host of thirty- and forty-somethings who are running and swimming faster than girls half their age. Simply amazing!
Lesson 3: In Need Of A New Statistic. Maybe for the next Olympic Trials, the U.S.T.A.F. can use something other than the fastest finishing times when deciding who to invite to represent the
Lesson 4: Not A Woman Yet Not A Girl. Apparently, girls in
Lesson 5: Tall Guys Can Run. Yes, it is possible to be 6’5” and still run like a gazelle. Usain Bolt taught me that, contrary to what basketball centers in the NBA would have you believe…who knew?
Lesson 6: Humbled By
Lesson 7: Internationalism Trumps Nationalism. Although people all over the world from all walks of life gathered collectively to cheer on the representatives from their respective countries, so many athletes from these Olympics come from backgrounds that overlap nations and cultures that the games represented a celebration of internationalism more than a competition between the various nations. From Nastia Liukin, the gold medal winning all-around gymnast, whose parents were both former Soviet champion gymnasts, to Samuel Wanjiru, the winner of the Olympic marathon, who was born in Kenya, but learned to run and was coached in Japan, there were so many Olympians whose personal stories reached so widely across geographic barriers that to celebrate them as anything but international athletes would be wrong on so many levels.
Lesson 8: Olympics Fever. Yes, from now on, every four years, this term will be recognized as a true medical disease with universally recognized symptoms. Employers beware.
Lesson 9: World’s Greatest Athlete. It is amazing to me that despite proving that he can jump, throw, run, sprint and hurdle faster and better than anyone in the world so much so that he set an Olympic record by the widest margin of victory ever in the event, in a discipline where the winner was once celebrated as “The World’s Greatest Athlete, the name Bryan Clay, the gold medalist in the Olympic decathlon, got less mention from the media than human rights violations or the Tibetan controversy from the Chinese. This Hawaiian native led by so much after the ninth event that he jogged through the last race, the 1500m, finishing in dead last, and still set an Olympic record for the widest margin of victory. This guy is such a class act that he persuaded a fellow competitor not to drop out of the event before the 1500m race but rather that he’d jog with him to the finish if need be. So cool.
Lesson 10: Long Fingernails Wins Gold. After securing and studying the digitally enhanced replays from the men’s 100m butterfly race, I’m convinced that because Michael Phelps didn’t have time to cut and file his fingernails that day, the extra 2mm of armspan is what enabled him to outtouch Milorad Cavic by 0.01 seconds at the finish. NBC would have you believe that it was the extra half stroke Phelps took and Cavic didn’t that was the difference, but I knew it really had nothing to do with technique. He was just lucky his manicurist was late. I’m on to you, Phelps.
There you have it, my ten biggest lessons learned during these Olympics. Hope you all enjoyed the festivities as much as I did. Please feel free to comment and add your own favorite moments.