It’s currently T-minus 19 minutes until the opening ceremonies of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games kick off (technically, they started a little over two hours ago London time, but the actual airing is yet to begin), and let me tell you: I could not be more excited.
I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to the Olympics. Sadly, I didn’t really watch as much of the 2008 Beijing games as I would have liked – with a full load of classes and two jobs at the time, for some reason, I didn’t have a whole lot of time leftover for watching TV. Which is really a shame, because you know how much I love the television (note: If you don’t know, click that link. Then you will.)
So now that I’m out of college, have a steady job and endless hours to watch said TV, I plan to do pretty much nothing for the next 17 days except devote myself to celebrating 1. sports I could never do and 2. just plain old American-ness.
And now on to a discussion about my favorite Olympic sport.
It’s probably no surprise (because I’m female, I guess?): I love Olympic gymnastics. My favorite team to date? Of course, the Magnificent Seven of the 1996 Atlanta games.
Yup, I know exactly where I was when Kerri Strug blew out her ankle on the vault – then went on to clinch the gold for the U.S. on her second trip down the mat. (And it still makes me teary-eyed. But let’s be honest – what doesn’t make me cry these days? That’s probably another blog post.)
And I still, to this day, picture Dominique Moceanu’s floor routine anytime “Devil Went Down to Georgia” comes on the radio (not that it comes on any radio stations I ever listen to, but you get my drift). (Sidebar: Have you seen this video on Moceanu’s long lost sister? Yup – her sister’s from my county. I played against her in 2nd grade softball. My elementary school’s gym is in that video. Clearly, I should be famous.)
Gymnastics sometimes gets this flack about people thinking it’s not a sport. And to those people, I’d like to say: Please God, get up there in front of the one billion people watching (I cite this statistic to Bryan Williams who literally just this second announced it on NBC Nightly News) and bend it and shape it (standby for a sidebar) like only a professional gymnast can. And then try to tell me it’s not a sport. I mean, have you seen the guy gymnasts on those rings? Or the pummel horse thing? Do you notice those arm muscles?
Yah, that’s what I thought.
Here’s that one sidebar I mentioned.
There’s this video/cassette tape series Big Sister and I used to watch/listen to all the time called Kids Songs – and “Bend Me, Shape Me” was one of the songs on the video we had. The video also, coincidentally, features kids doing gymnastics.
But while Googling said song for this very post, I found out the real lyrics (courtesy of elyrics.net):
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
Long as you love me, it’s all right
Bend me, shape me
Anyway you want me,
You got the power to turn on the light.
Everybody tells me
I’m wrong to want you so badly,
But there’s a force driving me on,
I follow it gladly.
So let them laugh I don’t care,
Cause I got nothing to hide,
All that I want is you by my side.
Call me crazy or dirty-minded – but don’t those sound a bit…adult? As in, if my unborn child(ren) walked around singing those lyrics – even an abridged version – I’d be just a little on the nervous side?
Mama and Daddy, what were you thinking?
But back to the Olympics.
Perhaps a better reason for loving this sport stems back to my own tumbling (read: the cheerleader version of gymnastics) days. No, I wasn’t great – I can almost be categorized as “good.” But “decent” or “shows lots of effort” is probably more accurate. And yes, I’ve forgotten most everything I learned.
One thing I haven’t forgotten? How freaking hard it is. All those flips on a 4-inch-wide balance beam? Impossible. The uneven bars thing? Terrifying beyond belief.
But the reason I admire them the most?
How they possibly do all that work in those ugly little elastic-lined, spandex leotards.
Seriously, I’ve worn them. Albeit I was one of those not-so-serious-gymnasts who wore them with a pair of Soffe shorts over them, there’s still this thing called “chafing” that takes place.
Think sitting on the beach in a one-piece (or, guys, a Speedo…gross), collecting a crotch full of sand, then jumping up and doing a shitload of flips for a few hours.
I tend to chafe in jean shorts, regardless of a freaking leotard.
So, U.S. Olympic Gymnasts – and, really, female gymnasts from any country at any level of difficulty – I commend you and your vaginal areas for taking such a beating (please keep your dirty thoughts to yourself) and still achieving gold and glory.
You’re stronger women than I could ever be.