I was just eleven years old when the summer Olympics were held in Atlanta, and I was completely obsessed. I grew up in a very small town in Texas. The kind where everyone knows you and all your business, but smiles and asks how your boyfriend is (even though they know all about your terrible breakup). Annoying as this is as an adult, it’s super fun as a kid.
I grew up in a cute neighborhood full of kids my age. We were all really active and often stayed outdoors playing games until the streetlights came on, and we were forced to come in and get cleaned off with the water hose. Besides being really active, I was also a creative kid. The neighborhood group and myself were always making up new games to play, and discovering new ways drive our parents crazy.
It’s no surprise that when they 1996 Olympics started, we decided to create our own neighborhood Olympics.
First, we planned the different events:
-racing (all different lengths…around the block, across the backyard, through 3 front yards..)
If there were any others I have long forgotten them.
We took these games VERY seriously. We practiced, made team names, cheered on our favorites, and only competed if we thought we were good enough. The day before our opening ceremony, I stayed up all night creating medals with construction paper, ribbons, and foil.
All day I competed as an “Olympian”, and at night I would stay up as late as I was allowed to watch the Olympics and practice my balance beam poses on the lines of our kitchen floor.
The girls gymnastics has always been my favorite event, and I was convinced I’d grow up to be Shannon Miller. The “magnificent seven” that year was unforgettable. Who can forget Kerri Strug’s vault routine?!?
When I was sent to bed, I would secretly stay up until I heard my parent’s door click close. Then, turn my TV on and continue watching. Equestrian events were always played during this time. I guess riding horses wasn’t exciting enough for prime time.
At some point, I gave up on my dream of becoming a real Olympian, but my enthusiasm for the Olympics has never waivered. There is just something about watching these individuals compete for their country. It’s really incredible to have all of these athletes from around the world in one arena. I know they’re competitors, but I get the feeling that they’re all in this together. In what other situation is there a representative from basically every country playing sports together??? It’s awesome and heartbreaking and invigorating
Husband turns to me each time athletes take the podium, just waiting to make fun of me for crying. I just can’t help getting caught up in all of their emotions. It doesn’t even matter what country is winning. As soon as they show a close-up of the winner realizing they just won the gold, and they can hardly control their excitement as they jump up and down, or fall to the floor in floods of happy tears, my eyes well up with tears.
I am so happy for their success, and then sad for the ones who worked just as hard, but fell a second short. It’s an emotional roller coaster, how can you not get a little teary-eyed? I’d excuse Husband of being a robot, but he cries at ever episode of Extreme Home Makeover.
Another reason I love the Olympics is the motivation it gives me to keep going to the gym…as I lay on the couch eating soy ice cream and watching the most ridiculously in shape people perform for hours and hours.
I may never compete in the Olympics, but four years from now I plan on having a grown-up Olympics party; paper medals and events included.
We will have the shoulder balancing competition.
The underwater dance routines.
The Spoon-on-your-Nose round.
And, a few adult-beverages will be a necessity for our athletes.
Go Team USA!