Olympic (and other) thoughts | PostIndependent.com

Olympic (and other) thoughts

Mike VidakovichGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Olympic games. I spent at least three hours in front of the television each evening soaking in all of the action from Beijing. It’s a breath of fresh air watching the amateur athletes (well, most of them are amateurs) compete at the highest level in sporting events that we don’t often see until an Olympic year rolls around. Too bad that happens only once every four years – unless you’re a fan of the winter Olympics, which I’m not.It was a shock to my television viewing system to have the Olympics end and the Democratic National Convention begin. In one fell swoop I went from watching Misty May and Kerry Walsh dominate the beach volleyball to seeing Michelle Obama staring back at me on the screen. It’s like Larry the Cable Guy says – that ain’t right. That just ain’t right.Everyone who watched had to applaud what Michael Phelps accomplished at these games. Eight gold medals breaks the record held by fellow American swimmer Mark Spitz. That’s one of those records that really may not be broken in our lifetime – unless Phelps decides to try something even more spectacular in London in 2012. My favorite athlete of the games was tiny gymnast Shawn Johnson. The diminutive American has a smile that can light up any arena and the talent to match. Other than her athletic ability, what impressed me most is that she seems like a genuine, good kid who worked very hard to live out her dreams. The sincere look on her face was always the same, whether she was at the top of the medal stand or if it was her teammate, Nastia Liukin, up there. At the tender age of 16, don’t be surprised to see Johnson competing again in four years. Speaking of seeing Johnson (and Liukin), they will be at the Broomfield Events Center on Oct. 4 as part of the World Gymnastics Tour. Just seeing those two would be worth the price of admission.The NBC announcers said Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt was cocky. Maybe so, but I liked him. What an incredible talent. Three gold medals in the sprinting events and three world records back that up. Bolt reminded me of a young American Olympian who won a boxing gold medal in the Rome Olympics of 1960. Back then, he was called brash, cocky, a showman who probably wouldn’t amount to much. He turned out to be the greatest heavyweight boxer of all time. His name was Cassius Clay.The most heart-wrenching moment of the games for me was when American sprinter Lolo Jones hit the next to last hurdle before the finish line, stumbled a bit, and went from first place to seventh in the blink of an eye. After falling at the finish line, she sat on the track, misty-eyed and in disbelief that a lifelong dream was now gone. Later, the television cameras caught Jones in the stadium tunnel in a complete emotional breakdown. It was tough to see.The highlight of the games was the ending of the medal ceremony for the American men’s basketball team. Every member of the so-called Redeem Team took their medal off and placed it around the neck of United States (and Duke University) coach Mike Krzyzewski. That’s where those medals belong. What other coach could coax a bunch of overpaid, prima donna NBA players to execute on offense so unselfishly and actually bend their knees on defense? Just watch the Duke Blue Devils play basketball this winter. It’s always a treat.There is TV viewing life for me after the Olympics, though – and it’s not the conventions of either political party. This may be met with a collective yawn from most of you, but I’m now tuning in to the U.S. Open tennis in New York. I love the sport, and I’ll be hoping to see another classic final matchup between Federer and Nadal, similar to what they gave us at Wimbledon. That was the second-best tennis match I have ever seen. The 1981 Wimbledon final between Bjorn Borg and a young upstart from Queens, N.Y., named John McEnroe was the best.Finally, if you need to get in touch with me between 1 and 5 p.m. on Saturdays this fall, don’t even try. I’ll be tuned in and focused on my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Last season’s 3-9 debacle was hard to take and had me contemplating leaping off the Boy Scout Trail. I’m confident the Irish will storm back this year at 6-6 or 7-5 and maybe earn a spot in the Poulan Weed-Eater Bowl opposite some powerhouse school like Sacramento State.Times have changed for us Irish fans. Bring back the Olympics!Mike Vidakovich is a freelance writer for the Post Independent.

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