Stories from the Olympics


Snowman: “Oh, why didn’t my team win?” Image courtesy of ZeroSilence3, Morguefile.

A few days from now, the world’s attention will be focused on Sochi, Russia, on the eastern side of the Black Sea, for the 2014 Olympic Games. And I will be one of those people watching the U.S. team, cheering them on. (Gotta support my local peeps, don’t you know.)

I love the human stories behind the Olympics — hearing about what the athletes did to earn the right to be walking into that stadium during the opening ceremonies. Those athletes practiced and bled and sweated and strained to get there. They moved to training centers, spent hundreds of hours in practice sessions and maintained an indomitable faith in themselves. I admire that quality — to stay faithful to yourself and keep working when the world tells you something else.

This year is particularly interesting. After a long legal fight, these Games will be the first time that women will be allowed to participate in ski jumping. And twin sisters and U.S. biathletes Tracy and Lanny Barnes will be there. Lanny will be competing and Tracy will cheer her on, having given up her spot on the team so her sister could compete instead. (Best. Sister. Ever.)

The announcers have some interesting stories to tell, too. I remember one announcer telling a touching story about an African team during the ’96 Olympics. The team went out for dinner and had never tried pizza, so they decided to have some and found it delicious. For them, it was SO delicious that they had it again for breakfast the next day!

I wouldn’t mind seeing the Olympics live, myself. (Oh, if only….I would pick the opening ceremonies, the ski jumping and the figure skating to attend.) About the closest I’ve ever come was seeing the Olympic torch when it passed through Alexandria, Virginia on its way to Atlanta in 1996. A friend of mine who is a journalist decided to cover the story for our local paper and I went along for the ride.

It was fun to see and if you ever get the chance to meet the Olympic torch on its path to the Games, I recommend the experience. There was a ceremony behind the United Way building, a good-sized crowd, decorative balloons and an honor guard. The torch was borne in by the runner, people made speeches and there was a feeling of being part of something much bigger than yourself, just for a little while.

Olympic torch arrival

Olympic torch arrival, Alexandria, 1996. Note the people checking out the action from the balconies of the building next door. Image: blogger’s own.

Honor guard

Honor guard, representing different branches of the U.S. military, waiting to go into action. Image: blogger’s own.

Olympic speeches

Local dignitaries making speeches. Due to the big crowd, this was a hard shot to get! I put my hands far above my head, pressed the camera button and hoped for the best. And I was shocked how well it came out. Image: blogger’s own.

Overall, my favorite part is the Parade of Nations. The athletes look so happy to be there…some of the biggest grins I’ve ever seen.

And why not? They earned it. Good luck, Team USA. Make us proud.


Filed under Writing

17 responses to “Stories from the Olympics

  1. your post reminded me of a photographer friend who followed the torch in 1998–he loved it

  2. I had a post weekend before last I think when i picked the Winter Olympic events I would choose and ski jump was my top choice. I also enjoy speed skating, bob sled and curling.

  3. I have been lucky enough to attend on Olympic games in my hometown of Sydney in 2000. we went to the opening ceremony, some athletic events, indoor cycling and baseball (it was still an Olympic sport then). Amazing, energizing and unique. Not just in the stadium but all through the city. It was an amazing vibe. I will be watching Sochi with interest.

  4. librarylady

    I too am excited about the olympics, but a little nervous about the stories that keep cropping up. The hotels for the journalists are half finished and shoddy at that? Packs of dogs roaming the streets that are now slated for execution? I hope the whole thing doesn’t fall apart.

  5. Even thought I am not a sports person, I’ll tune it to the Games a bit. One day I hope to on the curling team; you know, one of those guys with a broom.

  6. Ice skating. Definitely. Drama. Glamour. Costumes. Oh, yeah.

  7. Patricia Mock

    Catching up on blog posts during a study break…I’ll second the enjoyment of the torch coming through. As the Activities Director, I took some of my nursing home residents where I worked to see the torch come through Leesburg, VA on its way to Salt Lake City for the ’02 Olympics. I actually got 2 of the torch runners to come onto the Nursing Home bus after their run to talk to us. I’m not sure whether the residents enjoyed it, but I had a blast! I really felt like I experienced part of the Olympics and I especially enjoyed them that year as a result.


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