Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympic observations

I'm a little pressed for time lately—which may have something to do with the amount of Olympic competition I've been watching—so today's entry is a bit stream-of-consciousness, just things I've been wondering about while watching the Olympics.

On watching track events: I can't imagine working and training years and years and years, as many of these athletes do, and then having something go wrong (clipped hurdle, botched baton pass) in your event. How must it feel to be so close to achieving your dream, and then make a mistake? It's one thing to perform your best and lose, but to not even perform your best? I lost sleep before and after a simple state competition, overthinking every mistake; how much worse could it be for these Olympic athletes? I can't imagine. I guess the Olympics are a high reward, high risk event.

On watching gymnastics: Conversely, what must it be like to be 18 (like Nastia Liukin), or even 16 (like Shawn Johnson), and achieve your lifelong dream? I can only imagine how gratifying it would be to work hard, perform well, and win a gold, but then what? There's still three-quarters of your life to live. What do you find to do next? You can't really do the same thing but better, you've already got gold. So now what? Not a problem I'll ever have.

Also, if the Chinese did falsify birth records for some of their gymnastics competitors: Why? Did you really think you could get away with it? I guess if you head an authoritarian state, you probably did, but did you think about the loss of face if the truth came out? How terribly embarassing. I guess they did it (if they did it, which they probably did, if you looked at some of those girls) for the same reasons some athletes start doping: they just wanted to win too badly. I don't understand it, though; even if you win, wouldn't it feel hollow, because you cheated? And when you get found out ... ask Marion Jones whether it was worth it, when she only had those gold medals for only a few years.

On watching beach volleyball: Beach volleyball is awesome. How do they move so fast on the sand? How do they dig some of those spikes? How do they manage to return almost every serve? I love volleyball, even though I'm slow and can't jump high.

I wish I were tall.

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