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Beijing 2008

August 22, 2008

I can’t believe the Olympics are almost over and I haven’t even posted a single blog on them. I love the Olympics. As a kid I had always dreamed of becoming an Olympian. As fate would have it I found a lot of other activities I’d rather explore than to dedicate myself wholly to a single sport. The Olympics lost some respect from me in Athens when the horde of drug accusations tarnished the some of the sports. I also have never liked the American-centric coverage that TV seems to do on the Olympics. I feel like unless the US has a chance at winning the gold medal you won’t see it on TV. Granted this makes sense. No one goes to watch someone else child play baseball. But I think the point of the Olympics is watch the world come together in friendly competition and not just root for your home country (although I do love myself a good ‘ole USA!’ chant now and then). 

In my jiu-jitsu class there are a handful of foreign students ranging from Mexican, to Japanese, to Korean. While most of them know English, for the most part it’s only a spatter of English. While we can’t always find the right words to communicate we both know the rules of jiu-jitsu, and there is no linguistic barrier that blocks us from that. When one of us does a good escape or a quickly applied submission we both look at each other, smile and bow, a universal code of respect. To me that is what the Olympics are about. Overcoming differences and coming together in the name of compassion through friendly competition. I think it’s one of the many  amazing things sports can do. 
Some other thoughts on this years Olympics thus far:
• I haven’t seen the opening yet, but I really need to check it out. I’ve heard nothing but amazing things about it, and seeing that I might be floating into the live events business it’s probably a good thing to see. 
• Michael Phelps has gills. The man is incredible. Nuff said. 
• Usain Bolt has quicksilver for blood. The man is incredible. He blew the world record away by .03 seconds. Sure that doesn’t sound like a lot, but in the 100m that is HUGE. Not only that, but he did it as he danced the last 5 meters. It blows my mind how much bigger and stronger our race is becoming over the years. You wonder what the record will be in another 10 years. And furthermore, is there a limit to how strong and fast our bodies are capable of becoming? 
• Olympic boxing is boring. I don’t like the points scoring system. To me it looks very sloppy, and just a quick fluttering of punches. They bob in, punch punch punch, then bob out. I like the slower methodical rules in normal boxing. 
• China is by every right winning the Olympics. I know they show medal count, but I think Golds count three times as much as Bronze. I think it’s great that the Chinese athletes are stepping up on the world stage and bringing pride to their country.
• Watching the weight lifters scares me. It blows my mind how they can lift that much weight and not destroy themselves. 
• Where is the wrestling and judo? I feel like I never see any of the sports I want when I turn on the TV.
• Every Olympics I learn of a new sport I never even knew existed. C2 (canoeing races), Handball, and this year synchronized diving. Such a pretty sport, and I’m in awe at how they can get all of the rotating and flipping together. 
• I have a new respect for Dressage. Those horses are freaking incredible. How do you train a horse to stutter step like that? Or trot sideways? 
• So Japan beat the US in softball. Their first loss since 2000! A tough way to go out, but it’s good to see other nations becoming stronger in softball. 
• BMX bike racing had it’s debut. It’s interesting to see what sports are added to the list, and which ones are taken away. One could argue that the ideology of the world could be reflected in the Olympic sports selection. One could argue, but I won’t here. It’d take too long. 
• And finally, I want to congratulate Benjamin Boukpeti of Togo, for winning his countries first medal. He won bronze in the kayak slalom event. I happened to see it on TV, and it was amazing to see his excitement (Upon winning he broke his paddle on his kayak). That is also what the Olympics about. It’s not just about winning gold, beating records, and winning medal counts. It’s about third place, it’s about being able to compete at all. It’s about having a small never-heard-of-before country placed on the same platform as world superpowers, there for the entire world to see. Sport is a reflection of the possibility of greatness found within the human race. We’re all born with potential, and through hard work, determination, and dreams we can achieve anything. 
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