I'm not sure that anything could be timed more perfectly than the Olympics are right now. Sure Brazil is the hot bed of all things Zika and has water with levels of E.Coli that would make any microbiologist cringe. And generally I'd prefer not to watch a stadium full of dancers with nary enough clothing during the opening ceremony. But in the midst of the world going crazy, nightly name calling on the news, and a general lack of kindness across our country, I'm not sure anything has the potential to rally our country right now like the Olympics could.
Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I've been on the lookout for athletes & stories that I know will force me to shed emotional tears. I look forward to the surprise wins and the heart breaking sad podium moments of dreams lost.
Cue the Olympic music (come on...you know you love it as much as Bob Costas).....
There's the inevitable gymnastics team destined for a Wheaties box. Please ladies - no broken bones AKA Kerri Strug, though you would surely guarantee a spot in my memory if you did.
And then there's any relay on land or water - oh the transfers! The stress! My poor fingernails are already dreading those events.
I'm really excited to watch Michelle Carter, better known as the ShotDiva. I love that she's kept at training and excelling despite the fact that she's *gasp* thirty. Don't get me wrong - I love watching the teenagers in gymnastics and the college age runners. But give me someone who has entered legit adulthood and still works hard with enough consistency to compete with those guys on the worlds biggest stage? You, my friend, have my utmost admiration. Here's where the tears come - her Dad was a shot putter too. And you know NBC will inevevitaly pan to him cheering her on. And the faucet will flow. Shot put doesn't get a lot of screen time, but I've got my fingers crossed that we get more than just a glimpse of Michelle. (PS - she runs camps for girls to teach strength, confidence, & that beauty is more than just on the exterior. My heart just loves this!).
We can't forget Michael Phelps - after all he's carrying the flag during the ceremony after all. Sure he has the most Olympic medals of any American. Sure he should give someone else a chance to win. But then there's the redemption story. *Cue the tears*. I never thought he would make it to Rio. The last I remembered hearing from him was of multiple DUI's that were part of a sad spiral where he said he became suicidal. But he was given a copy of "The Purpose Driven Life" by an athlete friend and he has said that God helped pull him out. He went to behavioral rehab. He started training again. He got married and had a baby (well, his wife. Clearly.) But more than that, he reconciled with his Dad. This will be the first Olympics we may see his Dad in the stands. And I can't wait. It's such a great reminder that no relationship is too far gone to recover and that we all have self doubts - even those we see as super successful may not see themselves that way. Here's a link to his story.
And then there's an Olympic first. There is a team of refugees who are competing under the Olympic flag. They are "nationless" for all practical purposes. But the world hasn't forgotten them & I can not wait to watch them chase after their dreams, just like they would have for their countries of origin had the world unrest not have come to head when it did. They are walking just before Brazil in the Parade of Countries & they very well will receive a standing ovation in my living room.
Who & what are you watching? You can count on me for some synchronized swimming & rhythmic gymnastics for good measure. Is there a tear-jerking story you know is coming? Because to be sure I want to set my DVR.
America, let's take this chance to cheer on and celebrate our fellow countrymen. No matter their age. Their religion. Their skin tone. Their state. We're all Americans & I can't wait to watch us show the world who is boss!