Friday, February 26, 2010

Waiting for the Breakdown

Like millions of others around the world, I've been watching the Olympics for the past two weeks, rooting for the home team, hoping for some medals. Vancouver has been marred by problems since the very start. There was the tragic death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during a practice run just hours before the opening ceremony. Then our Canadian sweetheart, figure skater Joannie Rochette, lost her mother to a heart attack just days before she was scheduled to compete.

Of course, when tragedy occurs, media will be there. Hence the title of this post. For these athletes to continue on after tragedy is commendable... but to be able to forge ahead under constant media attention and scrutiny; well, that is truly admirable.

The resilience for some athletes was amazing, while for others, the pain was simply too great. Rochette went on to win the Bronze last night. Kumaritashvili's fellow luger, Levan Gureshidze, felt he could not compete following the death of his teammate, and returned to Georgia to mourn.

Vancouver has also been challenged by the various technical and logistical problems they've had. From ice surfacers breaking down at the speed skating oval, to lack of snow on the mountains. Oh yes, let's not forget the protesters... Thousands who march the streets to bring more attention to their chosen cause. Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to stand up for a person's right to protest... but not when that protesting involves violence or destruction of property.

But even with all the negative attention these games have garnered, there have still been moments that were simply uplifting. Watching Rochette get her bronze last night, the voice of legendary sportscaster Jim McKay floated in my head from his well remembered introduction to ABC's Wide World of Sports:

"Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety of sport...
The thrill of victory...
And the agony of defeat...
The human drama of athletic competition..."



irondad said...

I was quite impressed how classy Evan Lysacek was during several interviews about how the Russian and Putin were putting him down. I don't think Evan ever uttered an unkind word about Evgeny Plushenko.

Like you say, there were bright moments.

Lucky said...

I think all the Russian athletes were an example of grace under pressure. While the politicians back in Russia wanted their heads, they were performing as best they could.

However, the "Brass Balls" award has to go to Slovenian cross-country skier Petra Majdič. After skiing off-course into a 10-foot gully during the warm-up round and suffering five broken ribs and a collapsed lung, she went on to win the bronze in the 1.4km classic sprint. Tough as nails, that one. Slovenia should be proud.