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Flipping out over Olympic talent

Another Olympics has come and gone, and once again, I have been thoroughly blown away by what human beings can do with their bodies, given the right discipline, training and talent. Seeing swimmers, runners, soccer players, rowers and gymnasts concentrate every bit of effort and energy they have into attaining athletic perfection is inspiring, to say the least. Theres no denying that ol thrill of victory is one of lifes coolest experiences, even when its observed from afar.But whats funny about the Olympics is how ho-hum the TV commentators can be towards the athletes. To even get to the level of Olympic competition is wildly awe-inspiring in itself. To medal is amazing, and to get the gold is, well, I cant even find the words. But some of those commentators, many of them former Olympians themselves, seem to forget this.Oh, shes really off tonight, theyll say of some tiny little 15-year-old girl gymnast, impossibly flipping her body airborne and landing both feet on a balance beam, while just ever-so-slightly twisting her upper body, and maybe dipping her arm to catch herself. Off? Come on! Please! Ninety-nine-point-nine-nine-nine percent of the people on this planet couldnt even begin to contemplate flinging their bodies in the air and landing on the ground with both feet, let alone on a two-inch piece of wood. I suppose its the caliber of athlete the top athletes to be found anywhere in the world that demands this kind of scrutiny at the Olympics. But it still bugs me. That fine line between a gold medal and merely finishing a race in the same pool is often a matter of seconds or fractions of seconds. I applaud, loudly, anybody with enough chutzpah to even compete. To belittle anyone at that level, to me, is just twisted. I also find it interesting what network TV chooses to televise. My husband, Erik, and I got really hooked early on when the swimming and gymnastics took center stage and virtually every bit of televised coverage. After about the fourth night of water, backflip, water, handspring, water, vault, we got a little burned out.There are 28 different sports at the summer Olympics. Where were they? Unless we wanted to get up at 4 a.m. to watch the equestrian events or kayaking on Bravo, those went unseen by us and the majority of the American public even though those sports demand just as much athleticism as, say, synchronized swimming. Speaking of synchronized swimming, I got a call one night last week from my oldest and best friend Becky (weve known each other since we were 12). She was watching, yes indeed, synchronized swimming. Care, she said into the phone, I just turned on the Olympics and I just had to call you. Are you watching this?I wasnt. We both agreed that the synchronizers are amazing athletes one and all, but we couldnt help but revert to 12-year-old girls as we giggled about the womens strained, toothy smiles, plastic flower hair accessories, and jerky hand motions. OK, we may be immature, but we still appreciate excellence. This isnt the only time the Olympics has had some well, novel, sports featured. Croquet used to be an Olympic sport, as well as tug-of-war. In the meantime, wheres surfing in the Olympics? Or climbing? Go figure. Whatever the sport, however, and despite what sports get televised or not, I am and will always be an Olympics fan. Theres something very true and pure minus the questions of doping and endorsement deals about human beings pushing themselves to their physical best. Plus, for the past two weeks, we got to witness people from all over the world meeting and competing together in a peaceful, civilized way. Its reassuring in this day and age to know we still have the ability to do that, and to do it with grace to boot. Carrie Click is a reporter at the Post Independent. Contact Carrie at 945-8515, ext. 518, or at cclick@postindependent.com.


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