Everyone — let me qualify this — a lot of folks around the world have their eyes glued to the Olympics. I’m one of them. When I was a young kid (don’t laugh!) forty years ago, we only received 3 to 4 TV stations at our home. We had a TV antenna on the roof of our house and when the summer thunderstorms rolled through, our reception was gone.
I always prayed it was during some Olympic event I didn’t really care about. I won’t say which ones, so I don’t offend anyone. But the ones I refused to miss were the gymnastics, running, diving and swimming competitions.
I watched Mark Spitz win all of his gold medals, Nadia Comaneci score a perfect “10”, and Greg Louganis hitting his head on the diving board. I even watched Caitlyn Jenner (then, Bruce) win the 1976 Decathlon. And don’t even get me started with the Winter Games. I wore my hair in a Dorothy Hamill cut — along with a gazillion other teens — for years!
Over the years, we’ve been witness to triumph and sadness. I remember the horror of the 1972 games in Munich. Eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by a terrorist group. Those athletes were honored for the first time at the Rio Olympics. And in 1996 at the Atlanta Games, a bombing in the Centennial Olympic Park as part of a terror attack affected sporting events and their security measures until this day. Two people lost their lives and 111 people were wounded in this brutal attack.
Even with those terrible tragedies, the Olympic spirit continues. Athletes around the world train with a goal of being good enough to go to the Olympics and represent their countries. Some of them will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come because their spirit and commitment are a testament to the human race and our innate human instinct to become more than we are and more than we can imagine.
So I’d like to say “Thank you” to athletes like Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and all of the other athletes for giving me not just summer entertainment but inspiration every four years for the past 5 decades of my life. Now I need to go watch the Olympics.