Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lazy Sunday #230: My Olympian

Am I the only sensing that the hype leading up to this year’s Olympic Games in London is not generating all that much excitement?

At first I thought it might be a Canadian malaise, with us maybe still recovering from the massive winter party that was Vancouver 2010, satiated even jaded by this international competition thing.

Then I wondered if the way we over-hyped our own games just set the bar too high for anyone to better this soon.

Or maybe that well known British reserve was simply getting in the way of sparking an urge to party.

And then I saw the ESPN special “Nude Olympians” issue subtitled “The Body” and subsequently discovered that a half dozen other countries had done classy photo spreads of their own Olympic athletes in the buff.

And I knew that London 2012 was struggling to get some attention. Because if you’re having trouble getting noticed, taking all your clothes off is a sure sign of desperation.

There was a party near my place this week for the daughter of one of my neighbors who was leaving to go to the Olympics.

I don’t know her more than to nod “Hello”. Didn’t even know she was an athlete, let alone one performing at a world class level. Suspected she wasn’t someone anyone else has ever asked to pose nude for some glamor shots.

But I went to the party and have to say I’ve never met anybody as thrilled to be chosen for any honor, let alone one this unique and prestigious.

I learned that she’s expected to medal, maybe even take Gold. I learned she competed at the recent Pan-Am Games and the last two world championships in her sport.

Yet, she lives just down the street and I knew nothing about her.  And that’s because all of us pay as much attention to she and her fellow athletes as I’ve been paying to the 2012 Olympics.

Because her Olympics are the Paralympics.

Some of her teammates were at the party. Athletes missing limbs. Athletes who are deaf. And blind. And mentally challenged.

And as I talked to them I began to understand their motto –- “Forget everything you thought you knew about humans. Here come the superhumans”.

This year, I really don’t care who owns the podium in London. These will be my Olympians. And these will be the games I watch.

Enjoy Your Sunday.


Joe Clark said...

Her friends with those disabilities might have been at the party, but of the four you mentioned, only blind and physically disabled athletes compete at the Paralympics. It isn’t a hodgepodge of everyone who’s crippled in some way or another (leaving aside for a moment the category known as les autres).

jimhenshaw said...

Sorry Joe, but you're wrong. Paralympic competitor categories include: Amputees, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, disabilities affecting muscle control, balance or coordination, dwarfism, MS, intellectual disabilities, vision impairment, spinal cord injuries, polio victims and more.