The Olympics are arguably my favorite time of year. From a storytelling perspective, they have told some of the world’s greatest stories. The games bring together the best athletes from all over the world to compete while the world watches in awe. The triumph, conflict, heartbreak, and joy is spellbinding.
I have a love for the summer Olympics – particularly women’s gymnastics. I had dreams of being an Olympic gymnast, but those dreams were later squashed by my extreme lack of flexibility and my fear of falling. So instead, I read and write stories about them.
Anyways, everyone has “that moment” that they will remember forever. For me, it was during the ’96 summer Olympics. Specifically the women’s gymnastics finals.
It was late (well, probably only 9pm, but later than my early elementary school self had ever been allowed to be out of bed) and the entire house was silent. My dad and brother had decided against watching, and my toddler aged sister had already been put to bed.
My mom and I sat together on a chair in our family room, our eyes glued to the TV as the Magnificent 7 competed against Russia for the most coveted title: Olympic Champions. We watched as each of these phenomenal athletes competed on the uneven bars, the beam, floor routine, and the vault.
“Look at those flip-flops! Mad, do you see that? You could do flip flops if you wanted too!” I watched, spellbound, as the US team “flip flopped” (or back handspringed as most would refer to it) across the floor, and into the hearts of America.
It was then that I truly believed in magic. These women were heroes! Sure a princess could slay a dragon, but only someone with super human powers could fly through the air, transfiguring themselves into something else completely, and then be brought back to the ground to the thundering applause of adoring fans. Heroes fight through the pain of a broken ankle, to secure the gold medal. Heroes teach you that you can be anyone you wish to be, and heroes show you how to put someone or somebody over yourself.
As the Fierce Five take center stage tonight to seal America’s fate and take home the gold once again. You can bet I’ll be watching, and for those moments, I will forever be the little girl in the over sized T-shirt mesmerized by the flip-flops and the American dream.