Today is one of my *very favorite* days--Olympic Opening Ceremonies Day! Yahoo! I am a hard-core Olympic junkie. Hard. Core. I’m one of those freaky people who watches every possible minute of coverage--from when the athletes parade in with their teammates to the big ‘ole party parade at the end. I love watching the competition and never miss medals ceremonies (bonus points for athletes who cry during the National Anthem).
I have an uncanny ability to remember even the most obscure details from those emotional “Up Close and Personal” profiles. I love those profiles! Remember Elaine Zayak, the skater who was missing part of her foot? The one who skated like a goddess but had trouble with the “compulsary figures” section? How about the tour of swimmer Mel Stewart’s ”bachelor pad?” I’ll never forget Mel showing the audience his little entryway and saying, “Chicks dig hardwood.” Ah, the things we learn about our Olympic heroes!
For me, nothing compares to the two weeks of the Olympics. From the Opening Ceremonies to the Closing, I always get completely sucked in. Of course it goes without saying that when I was young, I so, so, so wanted to be an Olympian.
My first dream was to be an Olympic gymnast. I could do one heck of a cartwheel and my penny drop off the monkey bars was second-to-none. I was sure I had what it took to bring home the gold for the USA. Unfortunately, by the time I hit 6th grade, I was already 5’8. My dreams of being a tiny gymnast (sadly) came to an end.
Undeterred, I shifted my focus to ice skating. I was pretty sure that no one in the world was as glamorous as an Olympic ice skater. I mean the costumes alone were enough to make me forget all about that gymnastics dream. Plus, ice skating had better music. My favorite part (besides the sequined costumes) was that fans threw flowers and stuffed animals onto the ice. Glamorous sequined costumes and flowers and stuffed animals??? I was hooked. I practiced and practiced and practiced on the bumpy pond by my house. I lobbied for stating lessons. Sadly, ice skating lessons were not in the budget and my dream of gathering up roses after my flawless performance came to an end.
I think that’s about when I decided I was destined not to be an Olympic gold medalist, but rather, a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. But that’s a story for another time. Fast forward to 2008.
Somehow the stars and the moon and the planets all aligned and I found myself at the Swimming Olympic Trials in Omaha, Nebraska. Talk about geeked out! I was writing a little blog for Swimnetwork.com as “Obnoxious Swim Mom” when my boss asked if I’d like to go and cover the Trials for Swimnetwork. Are you kidding me?!? Of course I jumped at the chance! As a coach and swim mom, I was more than familiar with many of the athletes. Here was my chance to see them up close and personal! They gave me credentials and everything:
With my magical credentials, I was able to watch Michael Phelps and Dara Torres and Ryan Lochte from the front row. I literally had to pinch myself. As an added bonus, I got to put on a LZR suit and race in the OLYMPIC Trails pool (top picture). It was definitely a trip of a lifetime and probably as close as I could have ever hoped to get to the Olympics.
Oh! And by the way: I met Olympic gold medalist, Mel Stewart. Super nice guy. He’s happily married and father to a cutie named Bailey. He no longer needs to impress anyone with his hardwood entryway. : )
I’m sure the next two weeks are going to be filled with tons of memorable moments of athletic goodness. I can’t wait to see as many of them as I possibly can. Here’s to the next two weeks of Olympics! Go USA! As for me, I’ll be rooting extra hard for this young lady:
PS Team Lochte