What the Olympics Do to Me
I am currently preparing for the next Olympics. Where is it again? Oh yeah, Tokyo.
What will I be competing in, you ask? Um, I’m not entirely sure. Probably gymnastics. Or maybe I’ll push up my training and compete in figure skating at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018. If so, I really need to get a move on.
Because the pesky truth is that I cannot do a cartwheel, and haven’t been on ice skates in maybe two decades.
But that’s what the Olympics do to me. They make me think I can do it. That if I just buckle down and focus, I, too, could be doing an electric floor routine that rouses the crowd to clap to the beat of my funky, off-beat music while I complete incredible body-thrashing flips without breaking a sweat.
I literally had to remind myself twice while watching the coverage of the Rio Olympics last night that I am not a good swimmer and cannot perform a single cartwheel. Because I was honestly starting to think about what it would take to be in the next Olympic Games. Feeling like I had a shot. But then I got to wondering, if I’m not going to win first place, is it worth all the preparation? As though I have a hope of coming in fourth (or eighth or sixteenth) among the world’s most elite athletes in anything.
Perhaps my delusion is just proof of the effectiveness of the televised coverage of these Games. The commentators give you a quick primer on what a double salchow is and what you should look for in judging these athletes’ performances. And, two minutes later, you’re like, “Ugh!! She’s totally going to have a deduction for that bounce!!,” as if we know what the hell we’re talking about.
Is it just me? I sure hope not.
The other thing I do when I’m watching the Olympics is cry. A lot.
I think it’s due to a combination of factors. Firstly, I think about all the Olympians have sacrificed. All those movies, fast food outings, extra sleep sessions and dates they missed because they were training. The hours and hours of toil and sweat and tears.
Then there’s the fact that, as a parent, I now identify with their parents as well. I know how much they, too, have sacrificed. And how their hearts must be in their throats. Their lives put on hold to travel to their child’s meet of all meets with prayers of winning (not to mention prayers that they don’t get hurt). One look at gymnast Aly Raisman’s parents in the stands this go-round showed you the torment of being an Olympic parent.
Finally, there’s the sheer exhaustion. My exhaustion, that is. From staying up late night after night to watch these Olympic dreams unfold before my eyes (while seeing dreams I never knew I had resurface, same as they did four years ago during the last Olympics). Sure, I know these athletes have worked their bodies to the bones, but do they know what it’s like to stay up past midnight every night (with a fast 6:00 am wake up call from one’s own children) watching other people chase their dreams? I bet not.
Anyway, it doesn’t matter. I have to get training.