Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Watching the Olympics as a Parent

Like most people, I've been watching the Olympics this week. Not all of it, but bits and pieces.

I've always loved watching the Olympics. There is something about it. The excitement, the sportsmen ship, I don't know.

And just like every child growing up I had dreams of winning an Olympic medal in some sport. If the sport had been "falling down" or "warming the bench" or even "enthusiasm" I probably would have been a shoe in.

But since the Olympics is for athletes and therefore you need to have some sort of athletic ability, an Olympic gold was not for me.

So as I sit here watching last nights broadcast (thank you DVR) of the gymnastics finals, something has come over me. I'm watching the Olympics with an entirely different point of view.

As I sat rooting for Shawn Johnson to win the gold on balance beam, I sympathized more with her parents. When they showed them crying after she was awarded the gold, I felt for them. I could imagine the sacrifices they had made and coming to China to see it all paid off.

And later when Jonathon Horton won the silver in high bar, I was thinking how proud and excited his parents were -- even more than him.

I just can't imagine what it would be like to watch your children achieve all their hopes and dreams and reach the top of their sport.

At the same time, when Natsia Lukin was robbed of a gold in the uneven bars, the pain on her dad's face was not only the disappointment he felt in the result, but you know the bigger issue for him was watching his daughter be so disappointed. When clearly she had the better routine (yeah, I'm biased) and should have gotten the gold.

And then there are the stories of the athletes who are parents themselves. I know every one has heard about Dara Torres and her incredible comeback in swimming. She is an inspiration to all middle aged moms about what can be done. Yeah, she was an Olympic Athlete before she had her daughter, but still, she's an inspiration.

And what about the German gymnast Oksana Chusovitina, also a mother. At 33 she won the silver medal in vault. She is very understated, but her story is amazing.

I guess what has struck me is before when I watched the Olympics it was all about the athletes. And there is still an element of that. But to me, watching Parents -- both of the athletes and the athletes themselves, has struck a chord with me.


  1. Awesome post, and it's making me feel guilty because, ummm, I haven't watched any of the Olympics :-(

  2. I totally hear you on this one! I've been thinking the same things...while i watched Phelps' mom watching him, all I could think about was the overwhelming pride those parents must feel even just seeing their kid down there. Oh, and the gymnastics mom that you mentioned (the 33 year old who had a sick boy, right?) I just about wept the other day when I heard her story while watching and then saw her do so well! Yay! I agree with the others...fabulous post!

  3. I have not watched the Olympics this year. I want to, I just never seem to get to it. But as a parent and a grandparent I agree, we see things in a completely different light.

    Your post was well spoken.

  4. Great post! If I was one of their parents I would have to look away, especially on that balance beam!

  5. I too got caught up in the Olympics, especially the gymnastics and swimming.

    I loved watching Dara Torres be "Den Mother" to the other swimmers, yet still a kick-your-butt athlete!


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