Can you believe it? The Rio 2016 Olympics have come to an end. What a wild adventure it has been, from start to finish. This is the first Olympics where I have been able to watch most of the events and have a good understanding of what has taken place. What a journey it has been. I don’t know about you, but I was captivated, to say the least!
The enormous strength, stature, and physique of the athletes absolutely amazes me.
Every four years, the athletes continue to get stronger, larger, and faster. They are each like finely tuned machines. What they are able to accomplish doesn’t seem possible. And yet, they dazzle and amaze us with grace, beauty, and elegance. The only way I know how to summarize the 2016 Olympics is simply…WOW!
And like many of you, I found myself watching from the comfort of my couch, and reacting as though I were present at each of the events.
As I watched the bicycle road races, I noticed I was leaning from side to side as the riders took their long descent down through the windy curves of the Brazilian mountain roads. During both the men’s and women’s events, as several riders crashed hard onto the roadway and into the curb, I cringed with pain. My heart sunk into my stomach and I thought I was going to vomit. “Quick,” I heard myself yell, “Show us the riders!” I wanted to make sure they were ok.
The swimming events were by far my favorite.
As each swimmer turned to swim their last 50m, I was at the edge of my seat, yelling. “Come on, Come on…he’s going to catch you.” I watched nervously as I pumped my fists in the air and continued to yell. As each race was completed, I let out a huge gasp of air. I realized then I had been holding my breath those last 50 meters.
In previous summer Olympics, I’ve never really appreciated nor been interested in watching the diving events. This summer was quite different. I found myself nodding my head in agreement with the commentator as she analyzed each dive. “Yes,” I would state, “Too much splash. Their entrance wasn’t perfectly vertical. Nope, they didn’t point their toes or tuck well enough.” Listen to me! You’d think I was the expert.
And throughout all of the events at spontaneous moments, I would talk to my TV as though it were actually listening and going to reply. “Come on,” I would shout. “Oh no,” I would exclaim. “Are you kidding me?” And words of encouragement I would always share loudly, “You can do it. Keep going.” When the athlete would finish, I was certain they had heard me cheering (even though I watched the events eight hours later).
After each event was finished, after each athlete had tried their best, and each medal was decided, I fell silent and watched in amazement. It didn’t matter whether it was my country who had won or some other. It just didn’t matter to me.
It was that precise moment on the podium, as the athlete’s national anthem was played, the goose bumps formed on my arms. I watched the country’s flag with the athlete. As I watched the tears fall down their cheeks, I felt them on mine as well. It didn’t matter to me which country had medaled. I felt proud! I felt proud of their achievements and what they had accomplished. I felt proud that they had shared this very special moment of their life with me.
I wish I could write each athlete a thank you note.
I would write a note to every single athlete who had competed. It doesn’t matter whether they medaled or not. The mere fact that they qualified to complete in the Olympics…well, WOW! This was their finest hour, their biggest audience, and their biggest arena. If only I could be even a fraction as good as they are in their sport.
And so, as I reflect on the 2016 Rio Olympics, I want to tell each and every athlete, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. You didn’t just entertain me. You completely wow’d me. You made me so proud! You shared with me and showed me your passion and heart. You educated me and enthralled me. You amused me and confused me. You frustrated me and elated me.”
Most of all, “Thank you for being you. You are awesome and there is no better you!” I can’t wait until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics! I will be watching and cheering for you once again! I can’t hardly wait