I have a confession. I’m an Olympics junkie.

 

I have been since about the age of 14 when I started watching it with friends from the barn. I’ve had to force my self to go to bed the past couple of nights, what with the live feed from Beijing and all. It’s not so much the classic team sports like soccer or basketball. It’s the individual competition; the gymnastics, the swimming, the diving…and of course the equestrian events.  It’s those sports in which the athlete is both competing against another but also, and more to the point, competing against themselves that call to me. Those sports in which the drive is to out do your personal best. It just so happens everyone else is on the same level and that creates the playing field.

 

I understand these sports, I understand that drive. I understand to rush of honing a particular skill and seeking to achieve its perfection. To single mindedly focus on it, be it running, jumping, swimming, tumbling …the list goes on. I especially appreciate those sports that require the body to excel in a manner that it was not truly intended for. The men’s rings event always amazes me. I think of the strength, the absolute mental focus, the level of dedication and the sheer desire required performing some of those feats…and I am truly humbled.  Having pushed my body in even simplest of manners I can only begin to fathom what it takes. The balance beam is another event that almost escapes comprehension. 

 

I think of how these athletes were born built for this. The swimmers with their free moving open rotators, the gymnasts with both flexibility and predisposition to muscle, the riders with an innate intuition for the animals they ride and a superior ability to stay balanced while in motion, the runners with their robust fast twitch muscles, long legs and open hips.

 

It always fascinates me and never fails to move me…and the vast majority of these athletes? Do it solely because the love it. There is no financial gain, there is no stardom, there is nothing but the gratification of the pursuit of excellence and personal best.