Thoughts on the Olympics

I’m not entirely sure why I’m so enthralled every four years when the winter Olympics play out. The competition amongst the young athletes is so invigorating and I love to become acquainted with the setting too–the snowy mountains, the palatial buildings, the side stories. My loyalty is pumped up to a high level as I pull for our very own contenders. And I just love to see the snow from the safety of my own living room! I cannot imagine myself every slicing up one side of a huge “pipe” and landing just barely on the lip to swoop back down and up again. But it’s fun to watch someone who is so daring! So–I’m a vicarious athlete!

My favorite venue is figure skating but I enjoy the fantastic skiiers, the crazy bobsledders, and the fast, so fast, speed skaters.I love to see those who have worked for years win their medals. And I can cry for those who worked so hard and ended up way down the list. I can get wrapped up in watching each one’s moves as the commentator describes their tiny, but costly mistakes or applauds their landings from four tumbles in the air to standing firm and skiing on down the slope.

But one of the best parts is the story of each Olympian. Some are truly Cinderella stories as kids from a humble background began working out as first graders or third graders and developed a dream. Behind each one is someone who particularly pushed them to stay focused on that dream, someone who kept telling them they could, someone who inspired and always, always stood behind them. Such a one was Katie Uhlaender whose Dad understood her passion for slicing down an icy, twisting track at 80 miles an hour, headfirst in the skeleton venue. You can read her story leading up to the Olympics in my favorite magazine, Guideposts, their February edition. Read how when her dad died, she thought she could no longer compete and then how she had a comeback.

So, for whatever reason this 71-year-old woman really gets “turned on” by the Olympics. I love the challenging, victorious music, I love the excitement of competition, I love to hear stories of the Olylmpian heroes, including those who didn’t win the gold as they’d so hoped. For instance, there was the brother who won bronze instead of gold but whose tears were not because of winning less than hoped but because his beloved brother had recently died. Or what about the brother whose great victory (I think he won Gold) was shared with his brother there in Russia in a passionate bear hug? That brother was the one who pushed him from the sidelines, the same brother who can’t himself compete because he has cerebral palsy.

No, I’m no athlete, never was and never will be (unless in heaven God puts me on a snowboard and sprinkles me with special power) BUT–watching these athletes do their very best makes me want to do the best with whatever I am “into.” If I’m knitting, I want to make every stitch right where it’s supposed to be! If I’m cooking, I want to turn out delectable dishes! If I’m being a friend, I want to do my best to be the friend God wants me to be. That’s what it’s all about!

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