I did not get to watch as much of the 2012 London Olympics as I would have liked but I do enjoy watching the best of the best athletes compete from all over the world. One of my favorite events is the gymnastic competition.
These people train so hard and start at such an early age it has to be very heartbreaking for them when they do not perform up to their potential. As we sit back and watch we know it is a great accomplishment to just be there and I am sure they realize it but at that moment, anything less than a medal would have to be disappointing.
During the years when I could run and jump I always hated losing basketball games or softball games, especially in tournaments. The normal, everyday athlete knows they will play the game for a little while and then move on. It is a hobby not a life's dream. Many Olympians have every aspect of their lives tied up around practice and preparing. It would have to be consuming.
I guess when we compete at any level we are there to win. Winning is always more fun than losing but in reality, there will be only one first place winner in any event whether it be an Olympic game or a high school game. The gold is the goal.
I was reading about a young girl in the Olympics who left home to live with a non-related family in another state for several years so she could train with a particular coach in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. She only saw her mother four times in several years. She did make it. That is dedication on both the young athlete and her mother.
The athletes who make it to the Olympics do not just wake up and decide they are going to compete in the Olympics. It takes training, sacrifices, and talent in whatever sport they compete in. They have to start at an early age and give up a lot. It has to be a priority.
Over 10,000 athletes competed from over 200 countries in the London games. It would have been very exciting to be a part of it.
The U.S. athletes did well coming in first in the number of medals with a total of 104. They earned 46 gold medals.
It is a small percentage of athletes who make it to the Olympics and then another small percentage that win the gold but what a thrill it would be to be part of it.
It would have to be very exciting for an athlete to set a new world record in running, swimming or any other sport. Sometimes records may stand for a long time but usually someone down the road will go a little faster, jump a little higher, or make a few more points. I have always heard records are made to be broken. I don't see how they can get much faster. A human body can go do so much.
Our northeast corner of Arkansas was represented in London as we had some pole vaulters who trained under Earl Bell of Cash, former Olympian, world record holder, and 1998 National Olympic Coach of the Year.
The official Paralympics Games have followed the Olympic Games since the early 1960s. This year they will begin on Aug. 29 and run through Sept. 9. That is also quite an accomplishment for competitors with physical disabilities.
A little trivia about the modern Olympics:
*The first modern Olympic Games were held in 1896 in Athens, Greece, with 241 athletes from 14 countries.
*Women were allowed to compete four years later in the next Olympic Games held in Paris, France.
*The winter games were started in 1924 in Chamonix, France, with 258 athletes from 16 countries.
*The Olympic flame was a practice in the ancient Olympic Games and first appeared in the modern games in 1928 in Amsterdam.
*There were no Olympic Games in World War I and World War II, 1916, 1940 or 1944.