I love the Olympics. Summer Olympics, Winter Olympics, I love them. Everything about them. It’s amazing to me to see all the talent walking (or running) around on this planet. I sat on my butt and watched as these athletes put years of training to work and compete at the highest level possible. I think to myself as I watch all these perfectly toned bodies doing what they do best – I really have to give these people a lot of credit. I can’t imagine what type of training program they must have, what type of eating program, and how dedicated they must be to it, especially in the weeks and months leading up to the Olympics. I have to pep talk myself to get out the door to go for a walk after supper, let alone the hours these folks must spend in the gym, on the fields, courts, etc. They pour their hearts and souls into their sport, and it shows, time and time again.
My favourite thing about the Olympics is how it connects people. In many ways, but three in particular.
First, through social networking. There were a lot of people calling London 2012 the “Twitter Olympics.” The volume of tweets was unlike any before. I created a special list on my Twitter account for the Olympics and checked it regularly. The number of tweets throughout those two weeks showed exactly how many people were watching, were paying attention, were caught up in it. Twitter wasn’t the only social networking platform that exploded over the last two weeks, but it was my go-to place for updates. In this way, the Olympics connected millions of people around the world and allowed for not just people to all sit and watch it at the same time, but for them all to have a conversation about it. From each corner of the planet.
Second, through the day to day with the people you hang with. Our office was the hub for the Olympics in the building. I had my iPad set up on my desk with my CTV app and would stream live coverage all day long. People would come up when they had some time to check on the standings in the diving, or call up to check the score of the soccer game. To find out what the medal count was. It caused interaction, conversation. Everyone was (mostly) on the same side. Everyone cared about the outcome. All part of the Olympic connection.
Lastly, and perhaps the most important to me, is how the Olympics connects countries around the world. Yes, they are all there to compete. Yes, they all want to win. But the last two weeks has shown some wonderful moments of camaraderie that you are not always used to seeing between countries. It can be sportsmanship at its best. You often see athletes upset, crying, or angry after not winning. For the most part though, the person that they are angry with is themselves. They are upset that they didn’t meet up to the standards that they held themselves to.
One of my favourite moments from London 2012 was when Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang wiped out on the first hurdle in his qualifying round. Not that he wiped out of course, but that when he was able to get up, he started to leave the stadium, then decided he was going to cross the finish line after all, so proceeded to hop his way through the rest of the race. He stopped at the last hurdle, kissed it, and then proceeded across the finish line where he was met by fellow racers from other countries, who were there to congratulate him, and help him off the track to the medics waiting for him. You can watch the coverage here.
Now, as a friend reminded me, the paralympics are starting in about 16 days. All the wonderful things about the Olympics with an added dose of inspiration. So we’ve got another week and a half to look forward to there.
Then we go into waiting mode. I’m sure my four year old will be asking us why we’re not watching the Olympics, because that’s all that’s been on the last two weeks. Now we wait until February 7-23, 2014 when the next Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia. It’s not so far away…I guess.