Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Countdown to Beijing!

Talking about figure skating has got me thinking about the upcoming Beijing Olympics in August. I still can't believe that it was four years ago that I watched Carly Patterson win the gold in Athens. I remember wishing at the time that my book was published. I thought the Olympic tie-in would be very timely. Four years later, I'm still thinking the same thing.
It used to be that television was the best place to watch gymnastics, but today, it seems like the computer is. I watched the entire World Gymnastic Championships via my home computer last Fall. It was fantastic not only seeing gold medalist Shawn Johnson win the title but lesser known gymnasts as well. I watched the competition relatively unedited. Always a beef when watching the Olympics.
I've been watching Olympic gymnastics since 1976. And no, it wasn't Nadia that I connected with but Karen Kelsall from Canada. She was just 13 when she competed in Montreal. The age requirements have changed significantly since then. Now gymnasts (and figure skaters) have to turn 16 in the year of the Olympics.
I don't remember much of Karen's routines, but I do remember what she looked like the moment she began her bar routine. She was running around, adjusting the mats, talking with her coach and generally looking like it was just another training day and not the all-around finals at the Olympics.
She seemed to be having so much fun.
I wanted to have that much fun, too. So, the next day, I retrieved a fairly large 2" x 6" from the wood pile, placed it between two sawhorses and began my life long love of gymnastic.
I've been a huge fan ever since and every four years, I find myself glued to the television watching great Olympic moments.
Best moment ever? 1992 Barcelona Olympics. All-Around finals. Shannon Miller's fabulous 9.975 vault securing the silver medal in the closest second place finished in Olympic history. I literally jumped from my chair when she stuck her landing. I loved her. She embodied great gymnastics. Dedication. Grace. Style. Power. technique. Hitting it when it counts.
Such a great sport.

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