Monday, August 30, 2004

So long Athens...

So the Olympics are over. I would say "finally" but I actually enjoyed the games throughout. I'll definitely miss coming home and turning on a really random sport and enjoying the sheer emotion displayed (well, not all of the athletes show emotion, but it's still fun to watch). I was actually quite impressed with these games. Call it low expections, but the games went off much better than I had thought possible.

There was a cynic in me who didn't think Greece could pull things together in time. Afterall, Greece is basically a third world country despite its location in Europe and membership in the EU. If you watched the marathon and all of the sites alongside the road, the runners may as well have been running in India. But whatever Greece's economic standing was and is, they pulled things together, however last minute and people who were there really seemed to enjoy it.
Cynicism aside, there was the fear in me that there would be some horrible terrorist hit. This, of course, didn't happen. And more than happy for that, I'm relieved. I should be happy that the best of the world can congregate in peace and enjoy two weeks of friendly competition. But I'm just relieved that nothing destroyed it. That's pretty sad isn't it? My joy in seeing athletes rejoice in their victory and hard work has been tempered by this ever-present worry that on the world stage, none of is really safe. I don't think about this in my normal everyday life. I don't worry about bombs coming down on San Francisco, but at special events like this? Yes, there's a pit in my stomach just hoping we never have to see the day. But you know what makes me forget about that?

A Brazilian marathoner rejoicing when he enters the Olympic stadium, running with his arms spread like an eagle, even though he had been attacked on the course just 3 miles earlier.

The Iraqi soccer team winning more than anyone could have imagined. And showing more heart than anyone else on the pitch.

An American wrestler crying, while sitting in the middle of the mat after winning the bronze, leaving his shoes in the center symbolizing his retirement from the sport.

A Greek hurdler who surprised the world with her run to gold.

It's these moments that make this all worthwhile. They remind us of our global connections. While we don't agree on many, many things, we can all rejoice when people from every corner of life can revel in what they've accomplished. Despite the immensity of these Games, it's these small moments that we will remember for so long.

I began this posting thinking I would write about "what next" when it comes to the Olympics (Beijing) and "what now" when it comes to Athens (sporting infrastructure). But you know what? Let's just revel in this for a moment. Call it an NBC moment if you will, but it's nice to look back on this short period of time and smile.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

eh...i would like to write complaint of you referring to our magificent country world country. we are land and Anna Vissi! If not for Homer, then your miserable country would not have such cinematic classics or O' Brother, Where Art Thou or My Big Fat Greek Wedding. And who do you have to thank for birthing the pleasure of hearing wondrous melodies of Yanni? We also have lent you our great modern heros like George Stephanopoulos & Maria Menounos(goddess that she is!).

And you say you had low expect of Hellas Olympics? i spit on ground of your worthless country!

Thank you for your listening - Irate Greek reader