The Olympics are almost over, and I’m about to relinquish control of the TV in our living room back to my wife and children.
As always, I will be sorry to see the Olympics end. The Olympics are just so cool.
I especially enjoyed the London Games.
Sure, they weren’t perfect. There was the flag gaffe concerning the North Korean women’s soccer team. The usual stuff concerning alleged, and confirmed, doping was around. There were dumb, vile tweets from some athletes.
There were wrenching moments. Chinese hurdling hero Liu Xiang crashing after hitting the first hurdle and U.S.A. 1,500 meters runner Morgan Uceny falling after being stepped on, after working her way into position to run for a medal, were particularly painful to watch.
But the good stuff - and this is in no way to slight the heartbreak that happened to Xiang and Uceny or minimize the hurtful tweets - has outweighed all of that.
Double amputee Oscar Pistorius’ odyssey. Countries sending women to the Olympics for the first time. Races for the ages in swimming and running (Cabrillo High School graduate Duane Solomon Jr. was in the thick of the best 800 meters ever run). Athletes overcoming huge adversity (in some cases overcoming past abuse) and coming through on the world’s biggest sports stage. Athletes about as close to middle age as their teenage years medalling. It is all wonderful stuff.
There has been more. Swimmer Missy Franklin and gymnast Gabby Douglas emerged as wonderful young ambassadors for their respective sports. The teenagers who comprised the U.S. gymnastics team more than lived up to their billing of collective favorite. We said good-bye (I think, anyway) to the greatest Olympian ever, Michael Phelps, who went out in style.
The sportsmanship between athletes from competing countries has often been extraordinarily good.
There have some missteps for Team U.S.A., but I think the Olympics were a big overall success for the Americans. And I’m not talking strictly about the medals won.
American athletes, by and large, represented their country extremely well. For that, they can hold their heads high.
I thought Kenyan David Rudisha’s world record 1:40.91 800 run has been the performance of the Games so far, but there has been plenty of other stirring stuff, including the world record for the U.S.A. women in the 400 relay and lead-off runner Manteo Mitchell somehow finishing his leg in the semifinal for the U.S. men’s 1,600 relay squad despite a broken leg.
Before the London Games began, a columnist wrote that much of their success would depend on the host country’s athletes. I agreed. And the Great Britain contingent has had plenty of grand moments at these Olympics.
I’m a huge sports fan, but a lot of what has happened recently in the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball and big-time college sports has turned me off (no, that doesn’t mean I’ve quit watching).
I think the Olympics, at their best, represent a lot of what sports should be all about. The 2016 Games in Rio? I’ll be tuning in.