Thursday, September 11, 2008

From Sydney to Beijing

American track stars were on the TV, but I didn’t watch. The 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney symbolized the end of summer and the peak of human performance. The best summer of my life was ending catastrophically and I was in a waiting room about to get a CAT scan of my lungs to determine, effectively, if I would live or die. I didn’t care that Maurice Greene and Michael Johnson were about to win gold medals. I just wanted my enormous dose of Valium to make it all go away before the needle biopsy I was also about to receive.

I always enjoyed watching the Olympics as a kid. I took pride in the accomplishments of the American athletes. I rooted against the “bad guys.” I went berserk when Michael Johnson won the 200 and 400 meter sprints in his gold Nike shoes. I mimicked Jordan on my indoor basketball hoop when the Dream Team crushed everyone. My heart sank when the Jamaicans carried their bobsled across the finish line. Wait. That was Cool Runnings.

After Sydney, my aversion to the Olympics didn’t last long. I saw more of the 2002 Winter Olympics in St. Lake City than anyone should have. With all-day coverage on NBC’s numerous channels, how could I resist? Ironically, it was a new illness that got me back into it.

This past Olympics in Beijing was fantastic; the best produced we’ll likely ever see considering how many resources the Chinese government poured into it. The Georgia Dome doesn’t compare to the Bird’s Nest or the Water Cube.Beijing Olympics Bird's NestBeijing Olympics Water Cube
My favorite event to watch was swimming, of all sports. I wish I looked like 41-year-old Dara Torres, minus the female reproductive organs.Ripped swimmer Dara Torres
I got into female gymnastics, which is only slightly less weird than liking figure skating. I thought many of the girls were hot until I saw that they were 18, or 17, or my God, 16! I’m just glad I didn’t feel the same way about China’s trolls. I felt much less weird being attracted to poor, sweet, 20-year-old Alicia Sacramone who fucked up in the team all-around competition.Olympic gymnast Alicia Sacramone
China will likely dominate every Olympics in the future, taking much of the fun out of it. Some would say the same for the United States in the past, but hey, we’re the “good guys.”