Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Passing the Torch

Olympic fever has invaded our home. Grace & I have been diligently watching the games, rejoicing in the victories of Team USA & enjoying the best of us compete in Beijing. It was really cool to watch the women's marathon as the runners passed familiar landmarks from my missions trip to China in 2002. You know what they say - "God sure loves the Chinese people. That's why He made so many of them." :o)

Up until June of this year, Grace was determined to be a choo-choo girl (Gracie-speak for engineer who makes sure kids don't pick the flowers by the train in Dollywood). In June, we celebrated the graduation of one of Gracie's sitters who has a sister in gymnastics. Mandi was teaching the kids all sorts of tumbling moves. Since then, Grace has declared a new professional goal: "I want to be a 'gymnastic' when I grow up." Ok, fine. Well, NOW the girl knows she is born to be a gymnastic after watching & cheering Team USA gymnasts, both men & women.

We watched gynastics & diving along with track & field tonight, admiring the best of us in their respective sports. Zoom zoom. Grace is quite the cheerleader & comes by it honestly. I have been fascinated by the Olympics as long as I can remember. I think my first recollection were the games in Munich 1972 with the likes of unstoppable Mark Spitz who swept 7 gold medals & broke 7 world records in swimming. We've heard his name again recently as the world watched Michael Phelps assume the podium as the perhaps the new greatest Olympian in history with his 8 gold medals. Also a recognizable name from those games is Olga Korbut, gymnast from the USSR.

While I don't have any specific memories of Black September, the Olympic history pages read this way: The 11 days of these Games were perhaps the greatest Olympic festival ever. However, on the morning of 5 September, the Games were interrupted when eight Arab terrorists, representing the militant group "Black September" entered the Olympic Village, took hostage and then killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team- all this only 20km from Dachau... The Olympic Games were suspended for 34 hours and a mass was held in the main stadium to commemorate the victims. The flags of all the countries were flown at half-mast. But the Games continued at the insistence of the IOC President Avery Brundage, who famously said "The Games must go on !"

And they did. Fast forward to 1996. I had been living in Chicagoland for about 4 years. I read a little blurb in the Daily Southtown about the Olympic torch run through Chicago. Small town USA me was definitely going to catch a glimpse of history as it passed through big city USA. I made my way downtown...not even sure now how I got down there - by car or train maybe. Regardless, I scouted around Grant Park trying to find a good spot to see the torch ceremony. Noticing a gate ajar by a not so official barricade, I walked in like I knew where I was going. Hmmm...just in time to see the torch pass down a row of handlers to the awaiting runner right in front of me. In fact, my pictures weren't that great because I was so close & shaking in my shoes with all the REAL cameras in that PRESS only area. I can almost remember the heat of the flame as the torch was passed. Oh, the places you'll go & things you'll see if you walk confidently.

I can't remember if I was so stoked about going to the Olympics because I'd seen the torch up close & personal or the other way around - I think I was so excited because I was going to the games in Atlanta with friends, Renee & Bob (as in Bob's your uncle). We had a blast at the games with too many stories for this blog entry. But this one thing: if ever separated from your party in a massive - millions massive - amount of people...meet at the car & don't call your friend's mom either to see if she by chance "checked in". Hee, hee! What a time! Wish I could find pictures. No doubt, they are buried in my 1st attempts at scrapbooking.

Then there were the winter games in Salt Lake City. Nae had a baby so she backed out & in comes Randy (as in Randy's your uncle). He joined Bob, myself, & good good friend, Kelly. Whoo hooo! Oh, the stories! Oh, the stories of sleeping arrangements, rituals & then just the not sleeping stories. We had a great time at the games & I actually skied for the 1st time without killing (or really embarrassing) myself. We watched hockey, speed skating - let me say WOW - I had front row seats at the ice dancing competition - thanks to Randy's near fatal fear of heights. Everyone else watched ski jumping or something like that while I spent my day on the floor of the bathroom. oooh, I haven't been sick like that in a long time.

We've all got great pictures from that trip. I've posted one of my favorites - it was handy right there in the frame. :o)

I'm sleepy now. This post has taken a long time as I wandered down memory lane. I haven't even mentioned Athens 2004 yet....Have a good one!


Dutchnic said...

Wow, all my Olympic memories are limited to vegging out on the couch in front of the tv!

Randy Beal said...

That definitely brought back memories. Like the 'thrashing' about in bed, ha!