The Olympic Spirit

2012 Olympic Rings

Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP Photo

I’m a huge fan of the Olympics.  It is one of the few times that some of the sports that I love, such as sailing, triathlon, running, swimming and cycling, get a spotlight on the world stage.  It is also awesome to see countries from all over the world come together to compete.  I love it!

As always, there have been some truly magical moments at these Olympics, new world records established and new notes in history *cough* Michael Phelps.  But for a moment I would like to draw attention to something that wasn’t so great. In fact, it really makes me angry and it doesn’t seem like anyone is really saying anything about it, so I figured I’d take this moment to do it myself.

Maroney

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

McKayla Maroney was a heavy favorite to win the individual event of the vault for gymnastics.  She is the current world champion in this event, but after her first vault wasn’t perfect she pushed too hard on her second and slipped.  This caused her to end up with the silver medal.  Yes, it was a huge disappointment,  yes, this may be her only Olympics and yes, she was brought on the team for this specific event, BUT she showed horrible sportsmanship.  Not only did Maroney still end up with a silver, but she also walks away with a gold medal in the team competition.  Yet, this young lady couldn’t suck it up to show some respect for her fellow competitors during the medal ceremony!?

She is quoted as saying that she wasn’t disappointed in the medal, but in her performance, and that’s fine. She can feel that way, but when she got up on that medal stand she was representing the U.S. and she did it very, very poorly.

Now, with that off my chest, I’d like to turn this post around and write about some of those magical and historic moments I mentioned above.  Moments like these are what makes the Olympics such a special occasion and deserve way more attention than Maroney and her sour puss face.  In fact, I think Maroney could learn a few lessons from these athletes.

  1. Pistorius

    (c) Getty Images

    Oscar Pistorius running in the semi-finals for the 400 meters.  I had had mixed emotions about a person with prosthetic legs competing against people without prosthetic legs. My main concern has been about the advantage that the advanced carbon fiber prosthetics may give to Pistorius and what it could mean for the future of running.  After I saw him race though, all of those doubts were gone.  It was great to see him out there running and a particularly moving moment for me was at the finish of the race when Kirani James (the winner of that heat) traded bibs with Pistorius.  They were from different countries, one was black and one was white, one had legs and the other didn’t, one had won and the other had finished last.  At that moment it didn’t matter because they both had so much respect for each other. Read more about it here.

  2. Kontides

    Photo: EPA

    Cyprus winning first Olympic medal.  In sailing no less! For those of you who don’t know, Cyprus is a small island country in the Mediterranean just off the coast of Turkey and Syria.  Up until this Olympics they had never, NEVER, won a medal.  Well, Pavlos Kontides put an end to that! Kontides won the silver medal in the single-handed Laser class.  As a sailor, I can tell you that this is probably one of the most difficult boats to medal in so it was no small accomplishment.  Sometimes it is easy to forget while we (the USA) are in the heat of trying to win the most medals of the games that there are some countries that are just trying to get their first.  Great job Pavlos and congratulations to Cyprus! Read more about it here.

  3. (upper) Getty Images (lower) AP Photo/Christophe Ena

    Veteran cyclists winning gold.  Both 38 years old, Kristin Armstrong (USA) and Alexandr Vinokourov (KAZ) won gold medals in cycling.  Armstrong, who is also referred to as “the Armstrong with an Olympic medal”, can now say “two Olympic medals” when she won the time trial event in cycling.  Armstrong had briefly retired after winning gold in Beijing to start a family, but here she is four years later repeating her victory.  As for Vinokourov, most people had counted him out of the cycling event saying that this was his last hur-rah before retiring, but to many peoples surprise he won! After watching the race I would attribute Vinokourov’s victory to his experience considering he narrowly missed a crash (which knocked out Fabian Cancellara, a medal contender) and also took advantage of the moment by making his move that would set him up to win gold.  Both were awesome displays of athleticism. Read more about Kristin Armstrong’s and Alexandr Vinokourov’s wins.

Competing in the Olympics is a true honor and a major accomplishment in itself.  I love watching all of these athletes at the top of their game competing against the other top athletes in the world.  It is the greatest show in the world!

1 comment to The Olympic Spirit

  • Kelly Thompson

    I agree. McKayla reminded me of Nancy Kerrigan when she won the silver in women’s ice skating. She did the same thing at the medal ceremony and that’s what I remember about her the most! Not her great skating ability. I love it that Vino won the gold in cycling! It’s nice to see an “old guy” win!

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