Sunday, August 24, 2008

Memories of Beijing 2008

I know it's not quite over yet - I'm watching the closing ceremony as I type this, but given that the last day of the Olympics always include lots of (occasionally nauseating) footage of the "tears and the triumphs" of the games, I thought I'd include my own. I am so NOT a sportswoman, but there's just something about the 'lympics that I love - I always have loved watching them, ever since I can remember. Especially with my dad.

Fortunately, I also did not compete in the Ravelympics, as I'm afraid I'd have a big DNF recorded against my name. But I've loved watching the 'lympics whenever I could - which, let's face it, has been every night of the week and as much of the days as well on the weeekend as well. Except for the travelling I've been doing for work, which has meant I've missed a few days here and there.

For me, what's really stood out this time is the achievements of the older 'lympians. I'm sure there have been just as many older athletes in previous olympics, but I've just really noticed them more this time. I guess that means I'm getting a bit older too...

It started with our opening ceremony flagbearer, rower James Tompkins, who at 42 is competing in his 5th (I think) olympics. And Dara Torres, the 41 yo American swimmer who beat an Australian swimmer young enough to be her daughter in the 50m freestyle (Dara got the silver, the Australian - aged 16 - the bronze). Then Jeannie Longo, the 49 yo French cyclist in the women's road race - amazing! And of course, Constantina Tomescu-Dite, the Romanian winner of the women's marathon, at 38 yo the oldest winner of any olympic marathon. And Oksana Chusovitina from Germany, who at 34 took silver in the women's vault in the gymnastics competition - again, competing with gymnasts less than half her age. Fantastic and inspiring and demonstrates the truth that youth is not necessarily all that!

And of course I can't forget the 67 yo Japanese rider in the dressage competition - Hiroshi Hoketsu - competing in his first olympics since 1964 in Tokyo. Our local broadcaster kept showing a highlight package of his ride - the horse was sweating, he was perspiring, and the horse spooked but Hiroshi got the horse under control to complete the course. And with his teammate, 58 yo Mieko Yagi, took Japan to a top 10 placing in the competition. I almost cry each time I see it, to watch his control and his concentration and his effort and to think about what must be going through his mind.

Of course, I did actually cry when watching the end of the men's marathon this morning - as I always do. I don't know what it is that makes me emotional but the marathon (both the men's and women's) always brings out the tears. I think it's partly the history associated with the marathon and the olympics and just the recognition of the sheer willpower (not to mention fitness) it must take to keep going for 42 km, and then to still be able to sprint to the line.

And for a final non-sporting highlight - how about those Chinese flagraiser dudes with the well-rehearsed flip of the flag. And the flagpoles with the little fan in them, to ensure those flags always flap in the breeze, even if there is no breeze. The Chinese miss nothing!

What were your highlights (those of you watching of course!)?

12 comments:

Donna Lee said...

I didn't watch the 'lympics. I did follow some of the events online and in the paper but I don't have a tv so I couldn't watch. I work with two women who run marathons for fun. I don't get it because it looks like it hurts. alot. And they don't get anything for it except the satisfaction of finishing. I'm not sure I could walk 26 miles let alone run it. I have such admiration for olympic quality athletes who push themselves further and further. Such guts and stamina.

Lin said...

The mens diving ..... especially that Aussie!

Sarah said...

LOVED it all - and glad I'm not the only one that crys :o)

Bells said...

see, I didn't need to watch it. You summed it all up for me!

You may be proud to know that I did actually see the men's diving yesterday and when the Aussie guy came out of the pool, I cried too and wondered if maybe I should have given this 'lympics gig more of a go.

Michelle said...

Oh, the men's diving. It was just perfect, and I cried more than he did!

And the BMX - loved those dudes, and I was co cross at the south african fellow for clipping our Jared's back wheel and making him crash!

And the 50km walk - I cried and cheered when the italian guy one, and cheered even harder for the Aussie guy!

Hell, I think I loved all of it. Except the shockingly lame commentary on channel 7. ABC radio was much better - you should have heard the men's basketball final call last night! Astounding!

Ann said...

I love watching the Olympics too & my favorite events are swimming, gymnastics & diving. I cried when Matthew Mitcham beat the Chinese & won the gold medal. He is the best!

Nora said...

The men's diving - how fantastic was that!

Carol said...

Okay I have to pick a highlight? Hmmm thinking back, okay the marathon. His third ever marathon, having only run his first last December. That was enough for even me to get choked up with as he ran into the stadium I will admit. But why oh why do they go and ruin it when we get to see the little guy get his medal and they cut to an ad break. Stuff like that irks me.

I am glad I stopped by and read your post, it's lovely to see you appreciate the sheers sports prowess of these athletes.

I slink away now as I wrote my blog post before reading yours, LOL.

MadMad said...

OK, I was totally distracted by Donna Lee saying she doesn't have a TV. That's where I get to do all my best knitting!

Em said...

I think the highlight of the Olympics for me was watching the closing ceremony (missed the opener, must look up the highlights) and thinking, "wow, London is so screwed." Because really, how over-the-top did China go? They certainly did themselves proud, even if I secretly believe that all the choreographers dropped acid before designing the show. Also, I loved watching the four by four hundred relays. This will sound corny, but I love that the American teams all had jewelry and accessories going and still managed to look like serious competitors.

Georgie said...

Im with Madmad - how on earth did DonnaLee raise three kids and stay sane without a tv??? ;-)

Seriously - the mens 10m platform diving was my highlight. I cried too! And listening to Tom Williams ("bmx expert") yell about riders "eating it" when they stacked! (Hmm, is that an aussie expression? Stacking = falling off, always spectacularly)

del said...

I watched mostly swimming & track/field. I always like to root for some of the countries that only have a handful of athelets competing -- it always seems more meaningful for them, though I know everyone who wins is proud of their accomplishments. But when someone can return to a country that only has thousands of inhabitants with a medal, that person's probably a national hero.

I did enjoy all of the competition btn. Australia & America in the pool. The Aussies did amazing, though I was cheering on Michael Phelps -- I just wanted him to break records. Plus, he was nice to look at. ;-)