Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Olympics, big time reality television

Ya know, I always say I don't want to watch them. And then I do. I get totally sucked in! I love how the producers of the games really go for your heart. They tell the story of 33 year old Oksana Chukovitina from Germany who is competing in her 5th Olympics - as a gymnast! Imagine, when most teams are struggling to provide proof that their gymnasts are actually 16, this woman already has an 8 year old son and has changed her residency to compete for a country that saved her son's life. Wow.

And then there's Dara Torres, the 41 year old swimmer from the US, who has been competing since she was 17. She too has a child, which is why she missed the last Olympics, but she's here and they're subjecting her to a ton of drug tests because they just can't believe she's as good as she is without some sort of enhancement.

And speaking of enhancement, there's the amazing Michael Phelps who has already won 6 gold medals but who is so competitive he wants to beat Mark Spitz's record of 7 gold in a single Olympics as well as the record for most career gold. At age 23. They test him a lot too. Someone so driven as he will surely be a success in life.

Most of the athletes who come to the Olympics will never win anything. They won't stand on the podium and hear their nation's anthem. They won't have the words "medal winner" attached to their names for the rest of their lives. And they likely won't make big bucks having their faces on a Wheaties box. But they will have come to Beijing to compete and that's such an amazing accomplishment. In front of billions of people around the world, they represent an achievement we normal people can only dream of: dedication, passion, sacrifice.

I get sucked in every time.

And for more great Olympics stuff, check out my friend Paula Yoo's post about how she wrote "The Sammy Lee Story," about a Korean American swimmer in the 1948 Olympics.