"A lifetime of training for just ten seconds". - Jesse Owens
For the past two weeks, I, like most of you I guess, have been absorbed in the every 4 year spectacle of the Summer Olympics. With it being based in London, the hardest thing for me is avoiding knowing the results before I see it on the nightly recap. I mean, the plague could break out, or downtown Birmingham could sink into a giant sinkhole, and I wouldn't know it because I'm avoiding the news. I tried watching the NBC national news one night and they said they wouldn't spoil it, so you could look away from the screen and they would show the results without a voice over. Fine, but then later in the show, they're doing one of these sappy human interest athlete closeups, and Brian Williams starts off with something like "On top of the USA's monumental gymnastics results today...". Good grief, give me a break.
Like many people, I’ve spent the last two weeks soaking up as much of the Olympic coverage as I can and with that, NBC has given us an Olympic amount of commercials. The Olympic experience has reacquainted me with the “commercial break” bigtime. In the men's 10,000 meter race, a race that only goes about 27 minutes, there were FIVE commercial breaks! Nothing like getting into the flow of the race, seeing the Kenyans battling the Ethiopians, and the crowd going nuts for the home favorite, Mo Farrah, and his American training partner, Gaylon Rupp, beginning to make a move..."And we'll be right back"!!!...then I have to sit through 2 minutes of some new show ad starring a monkey.... A FRICKIN' MONKEY!! I could certainly live without the vast majority of commercials, but I understand the necessity of advertising to help pay the bills, and let's face it, NBC is still bringing this to us free. The days of free sporting events is gradually fading away, so I'll sit through some monkey Doctor commercial to see it free.
Of all of the commercials I’ve seen, Nike put together a series of (I think) 13 "Find Your Greatness" ads. My favorite was of "The Jogger". If you want to see the series, click here. It only takes about 5 minutes to see the whole series.
I think the nationalism is the neatest part of the games. I'm as patriotic as the next guy, but I really pull for an athlete who excels at what he does. Oh, sure I pull for the Americans (except for the basketball team - it doesn't make my patriotic muscles tingle seeing some spoiled rich professionals crushing lesser powers at a game we invented, but that's a discussion for another day). Does it matter if China wins more medals than we do? You better believe it does! I want to beat China at EVERYTHING!! But, watching a Chinese Archer shoot a bullseye in a driving rainstorm to win a medal, with the rain pouring off her visor sure got my attention. How many arrows has she shot in practice in the rain, in the wind, in the dark, when no one was watching? Then she steps up on the biggest stage and bangs a "10" so Al DiMicco in Birmingham, Alabama can say "Wow".
Usain Bolt of Jamaica has my attention too. Track & Field is my Bread and Butter of the Olympics, and Bolt's domination is inarguable. He literally plays with his competition. But, what got my attention was during an interview after his 100 meter win, he paused the interview because in the backround, the Star-Spangled Banner was playing as Sonya Richards-Ross was recieving her 400 meter medal. He's Jamaican...she's American...What class!
OK, one more class moment. In the Men's 400 meters, the Gold Medal winner was Kirani James from Grenada. It was the first medal of any kind gained by his island nation. Yes, that was a BIG deal, but the class moment was when immediately after crossing the finish line, he went up to last place finisher, Oscar Pistorious, to exchange his race bib with him. Oscar is the first amputee (a double amputee at that!!) to participate in the summer Olympics. Just a local side-note...Kirani Jones ran Track at the University of Alabama (but I certainly won't hold that against him).
It's almost finished. Sunday is the men's marathon - the Olympic high point for me. But, I have thorouly enjoyed it all ( a few less commercials would have been nice). It has been one great time and I'll be back in 4 years. In the meantime, I'll see you all on the roads - AL