For as long as I can remember, the Olympics have always been a staple of my summer. Every four years everything stops and I am glued to the television, ready to cheer on the great USA. When I was a kid, I had more time to watch because I was home during the summer. Now that I am a teacher, I am back to watching the coverage during the day as well. To say that we are excited would be a huge understatement. We cannot wait!
The Olympics have always signified a big feat in my life. There was a period of time where after every Olympics I would get the "athlete bug" (if that is even possible for someone like me) and decide I, too, wanted to be an Olympian. My parents, the kind souls that they are, would oblige my childhood fantasies and enroll me in whatever sport interested me that particular year. As you probably know by now, I never became an Olympian, not even close. But in the spirit of the games, and for a good laugh this Friday, here is a brief rundown of my attempts at Olympic greatness (if we can even call it that).
The 1992 games
I wanted to be Shannon Miller. What young girl didn't, right? But I was a dreamer and believed that deep down I could do it. So what did I do? I enrolled in gymnastics. That might have lasted longer if I was an obedient child, but alas, I was not. My parents gave me guidelines. Keep your room clean and you can stay in gymnastics. A messy room proved more important than my quest for gold. So I was out. I would never have lasted long anyway. My family is not known for carrying the flexibility gene, and you need to at least be able to touch your toes to be a gymnast. I still can't do that.
The 1996 games
Hormones had now kicked in and my interest in being an Olympian was mostly related to my crush on Gary Hall Jr. Amanda Beard was a year older than me, so I thought if she could do it, so could I. So I joined a swim team. Halfway through the year I wanted to quit, but my parents made me stick with it, mostly due to the fact that I never really stayed with anything. The only person I ever beat in a race was my brother and that's only because I had endurance, not speed. And I definitely didn't win any actual races. Once during practice I hit my head attempting a flip turn and I never got the courage to do one again. That flip turn really does mean seconds in the pool. The closest I got to to an Olympian as a swimmer was staging my own medal ceremony in our family room complete with the national anthem, fake tears, and my brothers' soccer medals. This attempt only lasted a year.
The 2008 games
I graduated high school and went to college in the years following the 1996 games. I gave up on my Olympic dream and found other interests that better suited me. But the 2008 games resurrected that desire for swimming. Maybe it was the fact that the seminary I was attending had an indoor pool that tempted me. Maybe it was the fact that swimming was all the rage last Olympics. Or maybe it was the fact that my Olympic dream didn't really die when I quit that swim team. Trust me, it should have. My roommate (also a former swimmer) and I decided to test our swimming ability during the last Olympic games. So one night we went to the seminary pool, swim caps and all, and tried to see if we still had it in us. Judging from the fact that we nearly drowned, we did not have anything left in us and decided we will leave the Olympic games to the big boys and girls who have worked so hard for this moment.
I never became an Olympian. But like many Americans, I am a big fan. I don't think the games will incite any Olympic dreams for me this time around. I'm almost 30, just started running, and kind of like being the one on the couch cheering them on rather than the one trying to chase some childhood dream. Either way, I say along with the rest of America, "let's go USA!"