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When I hear the Olympic anthem, my insides smile. I get a little thrill, a little chill. Tears of pride and joy well up inside me. I become a total sap.

I love the Olympics.  I always have. That sense of oneness of the world and unity among nations truly resonates with me.

I’ve never had Olympic ambitions. I was never athletic – I was a dancer.  I didn’t even have any gymnastic skills.  A somersault was always beyond me. Ditto a cartwheel.

While I’m not a huge sports fan, I have tremendous respect for the skills of athletes, particularly amateur athletes who are driven by a sense of accomplishment, rather than a paycheck. Which is why I’ve felt a little disillusioned about professional athletes participating, but I begrudge no one their ability to earn a living.

I love tracking the progress of the Olympic torch on its journey to the next site. It’s wonderful how it passes through little slices of the world, and involves people like you and me.  It also feels true to that original element of the early Greek Olympics that started back in 776 BC (the torch itself), and nicely combines the early modern Olympics tradition of the torch relay, started in 1936.

We missed the opening ceremonies for the London Olympics because we were travelling, but we started watching as soon as we woke up on Saturday.  It’s a bit tricky in our highly connected world, when the Games are taking place in a different time zone, not to get advance spoilers of event results, but we tried. Kelsea and I like surprises.

I get excited about watching events that I ordinarily wouldn’t give two hoots about, and never watch at any other time – like water polo. I get favorite athletes and root specifically for them.

Television coverage brings all of the competition to my living room, yes, but I found it frustrating that we could only see the top competitors this year. I found myself longing for complete coverage, for an entire Olympic channel, that shows nothing but all coverage of all athletes in all events for all Olympics since they began being televised, all the time. I don’t want to see just the best of the best competitors. I want to see them all. They’ve all worked hard to  be here, and deserve the visibility.

One of the most inspiring moments for me was watching South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius compete in the relay. That man can fly on his magic legs.

I’ve often wondered – if someone wins the World competiton in an event, does that make them the best in the World? Or does winning the Olympics mean someone is the best in the world?

I didn’t get enough of the Olympics this year, though I perhaps saw more of these games than I have since the  1996 games, when I was home a lot being pregnant.  I was sad to see them end last night, but delighted in the happy faces of the athletes at the closing ceremonies, waving their medals. We did get the thrill of seeing a few Olympians in the Charlotte airport on our way home from North Carolina, though we couldn’t determine the event in which they had participated.

So I’m sad that they are over, glad that they occurred, and already looking forward to tearing up again when the strains of the Olympic anthem start echoing in advance of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. It looks like the little Russian spa town of Sochi has a lot of work to do in the next two years to accommodate the influx of athletes, spectators, media, and official personages, including the construction of a mass transit system.  It should be interesting, to say the least, to see how a relatively small town with limited infrastructure and construction resources, manages to pull it all together.

I can’t wait! In the meantime, I’ll revel in memory of triumphs, disappointments, and medal-winning smiles.

August 2012
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