Going into the Olympics, I thought many things were secured. I had a solid notion of what to expect.
1. I knew Michael Phelps was best swimmer in the pool.
2. I thought Nastia Liukin had a chance to return to the arena.
3. I knew the Olympics were in London, England.
4. I heard that the USA women’s soccer team was getting a lot of press.
5. I was certain I was only going to watch a few, choice events.
6. Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings would repeat as gold medalists.
7. I was looking forward to Team USA taking both gold medals in beach volleyball.
But, I must admit, my Olympic experience was somewhat different that I had envisioned. Not worse, however, but better.
1. Michael Phelps became the best (most decorated) Olympian in history.
2. The Fierce Five won team gold.
3. London is awesome!
4. There weren’t any tea breaks (at least that NBC showed).
5. The USA women’s team were excellent and won gold.
6. Misty May and Kerri Walsh did repeat, but Jen Kessy and April Ross took home the silver. The Team USA women played phenomenal beach volleyball.
7. Unfortunately, while the men played well, they just missed.
8. I watched more than a few events. Actually, the TV remained locked on the Olympics.
9. Water polo is awesome! And brutal (at least underwater).
10. Target sports make for good, quick viewing.
11. Rowing as very difficult. Skulls, eight-man, and whitewater are all fun to watch and fast.
12. Synchronized swimmers are incredible athletes (can you hold your breath for three minutes while performing the tango, upside-down? me neither).
13. Divers can hold a handstand longer than I realized (and make me feel wholly inadequate).
14. Water polo is quite possibly the most grueling sport in the summer games.
15. No matter the sport, Olympians seem more than human. Endurance, strength, mental toughness (plus, they compete when hurt [that one runner sprinted on a broken tibia]).
16. Usain Bolt is the fastest man alive (but does his ego get in the way?).
17. Decathletes are insane (10 events in 2 days?).
The Olympics bring the world together every four years to watch countries compete against each other. It unites us in front of the TV screen like no other show can. And it just proves how awesome the spirit of competition is. And, how gracious London has been as host.
But the number one thing I’ve learned is that Olympians are really young, some of them just kids. Watching them compete on TV on the biggest stage in the world, I can’t help wondering what I’ve done in my life to compare to that. Everyone at the Olympics is a hero, an icon, a representative of their nation, and a role-model. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid, yet somehow they take it all in stride (must be the excitement of the Games). I’d probably just faint or run away (you could always join the circus).