Friday, August 22, 2008
I knew that I was fighting a losing battle but I still managed to put up a valiant struggle.
I knew that I was up against an overwhelming opponent but I still waged a war that could only be described as Olympian … but I still lost in the end.
Sleep claimed me and I snored the night away as rhythmic gymnasts danced their hearts out for the gold.
Did I lose you there? Yes, I was referring to the Beijing Olympics, the rhythmic gymnastics competition in particular. It was an awesome display of precision gymnastics combined with the grace and elegance of ballet. I had been looking forward to watching it, and woe of all woes … my eyes simply would not stay opened!
I’m not exaggerating my disappointment here. I feasted on the beauty and elegance of the performances while marveling, with something close to awe, at the single-minded dedication that each athlete must have poured into their craft to come up with such perfection. I would have wanted to watch all night …
The word awe pretty sums up how I feel about the Olympics. I was hooked from day one, when China opened with a ceremony that could only be described as SPECTACULAR!!!
And who wouldn’t be? Starting from that phenomenon in the Water Cube called Michael Phelps (whose broad shoulders that seem to stretch forever, by the way, not to mention those magnificent abs, are a definite pleasure to watch!) all the way down to Hong Kong where the equestrian competitions are being held … I can only say … absolutely fantastic!!!
Dressage and horse jumping in equestrian kept me glued to the TV. The poise and elegance of the world-class riders astride those breathtakingly gorgeous thoroughbreds kept me amazed at the many facets of beauty. (Note: A blog visitor kindly informed me that almost no good dressage horses are thoroughbreds - they are warmbloods. Although I do not know what warmbloods are, I deeply appreciate that information.) My friends can attest to my fascination with those horses and at how beautiful they are to my eyes! One commentator speculated that the best of them could fetch prices as high as two million euros!!! Now, that’s quality for you!
It’s amazing how those horses could dance to the beat of music in dressage! I thought that if their trainers could teach them those intricate moves, surely they could also teach me the cha-cha! But that’s only wishful thinking. I’m afraid I’m untrainable in dancing. Each of those horses has more talent than a dozen of me put together. Hello? As if that’s not obvious enough! That’s why people are willing to pay millions for them, remember?
But my fascination with the horses and Michael Phelps’ abs, notwithstanding, the one image that will stay in my mind for a long, long time is that of a muscle-bound, fully bearded athlete crying openly while pressing his silver medal to his face and lips.
The enormity of his triumph, and those of many others, hit me there and then. That medal meant the world to him. Encapsulated in that tiny piece of metal are all his dreams and aspirations, all the sacrifices that he had to make, all the pain and agony that he had to endure … everything that he had in him, he gave into winning that medal. And it was finally his! Tears flowed out freely, unashamedly. Watching him, I had to swallow a big lump in my throat.
And just as there was triumph, I witnessed the agony of defeat. Many a time I watched as tough looking, muscle-bound amazons fight back tears as their Olympic dreams slipped away from their grasps. A lifetime of preparation and training gone in a matter of seconds!
This drama could not be more apparent than in canoe and boat races. There, at one glance, you would see the deepest depths of agony and defeat in sharp contrast with sights of victorious celebrations. Shouts of victory, hugs, and fists pummeling the air in triumph as against men slumped on their seats in crushed silence, exhaustion and disappointment heavily permeating the air.
And that, my friends, is the Olympics for me. Beyond the pleasure of watching the athletes compete and dazzle with their raw power and strength, their speed and endurance, their grace and elegance, and their sheer ability to defy the rules of nature by pulling off those awe-inspiring feats … beyond the pleasure of watching men and women at the peak of the physical perfection … beyond the pomp and pageantry …
In the Olympics, I had the privilege of catching a glimpse of what is inside the heart of each and every Olympian … that burning fire at the very depths of their being, that hunger for excellence that keeps gnawing at their core, that drive to be the best, that hunger that kept them going, pushing their abilities to the limit and beyond, and rising above themselves to become larger than life. All that, plus the inner strength that drove many to rise up after a crushing failure or defeat, again and again and again, is the essence of the undefeatable Olympic Spirit.
And that’s what made me say … truly awesome!