The Olympic spirit shines brightly | Community

The pomp and pageantry of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony was breathtaking.

And a great way to launch the record of 109 events involving a multitude of sports that will excite and entertain us for the next few weeks.

I am mesmerized by the various forms of skiing, skating, sledding and hockey – experiencing the thrill of victory vicariously through well trained and impeccably conditioned athletes.

Although I enjoy these competitions, I myself am not a fan of winter sports. Mainly because I would have to endure the freezing weather conditions outside to participate. I prefer temps in the 50s or higher for my activities. Especially since I wouldn’t have to wear six layers of clothes and three pairs of socks.

I tried to ski twice.

And failed miserably every time.

It was embarrassing.

Not to say painful.

There’s something about the five-foot fiberglass extensions on my feet that feels unnatural.

And clumsy.

It is impossible to get up gracefully after losing your balance several times and falling over. I spent more time trying to get up and out of the way of more skilled skiers than gliding down the bunny tracks themselves.

Similarly, trying to balance yourself on a single steel blade for ice skating is no small feat.

And it takes its toll on weak ankles.

No matter how tightly I tied my ice skate laces, I squirmed and wobbled. Shaken and staggered. I grabbed onto the rail along the wall for my safety. And the safety of everyone else.

I prefer the more convenient thick wheels on old fashioned roller skates. It makes it much easier to stay on my feet. And to propel me around the rink without accidentally tripping anyone else.

I attended a hockey game in person. The Kentucky Thoroughblades, when the American Hockey League team played at Rupp Arena.

But the game was too violent for me. Too much body contact, even when the puck was not in play.

Before the game, children were allowed to play with hockey sticks in a designated area. Our eldest son and his friend, fifth graders at the time, went crazy with the poles.

Watching from the sidelines, my brain kept screaming, “Danger. Danger. Danger!”

Although none suffered concussions, or worse, we decided the sport was best left to trained athletes who know how to duck, dive, dive and dodge when a puck flies towards them at lightning speed. flash.

I can’t imagine the dedication and determination of Olympians to train for these games. All the years of practice, sacrifice and expense.

I couldn’t concentrate that long, or that hard, to perfect something that I had to perform perfectly once for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, there are no spectators in the stands. Stands that can accommodate thousands of enthusiastic fans. Now, due to COVID restrictions, they sit empty while nearly 2,900 athletes from 91 countries put on their best performances.

China has spent nearly $40 billion preparing for the games. Fourteen years ago, the country invested $43 billion to improve infrastructure such as roads, rails and the metro system to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Several sites from 2008 have been redeveloped and are still in use. Like the Bird’s Nest Stadium where the opening and closing ceremonies take place and the Water Cube Aquatics Center for the curling competitions.

My eldest daughter, Ruby, and I were in China as the country prepared for the Summer Olympics. We actually visited the stadium where football – I mean “soccer” – matches were played.

For a football family like ours, it was a real pleasure to stand on the pitch where athletes of the caliber of Lionel Messi played.

We also had the chance to see other Olympic venues.

In 2016, Ruby and I glimpsed where the 1960 Summer Olympics were held before embarking on a cruise to Rome.

During this same trip, we walked through the area dedicated to the 1992 Summer Games in Barcelona, ​​Spain. We walked near the huge Piscina Municipal de Montjuic, where swimmers and snorkelers competed. It is close to the fabulous magic fountain which offers an incredible multi-coloured light show.

Konstantin, a former exchange student from Germany, showed my two sons and me around the Berlin football stadium where the 1936 matches were played. It was then that African-American superstar Jesse Owens dominated athletics, winning a record four gold medals.

On vacation one year our whole family spent time around Centennial Park, the downtown area where Atlanta hosted the 1996 Summer Olympics. That year was special as it marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the Olympic Games in Athens. There were plenty of family activities to enjoy years later with a water park, the Coca-Cola Museum, an aquarium, and CNN tours.

Whoops.

Must go for it.

Time to watch today’s TV matches where I can watch all the winter competitions I want from the comfort of my warm and comfy couch.

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