Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Tears

I love the Olympics especially the Winter Olympics. There's something magical about the ice and snow mixed in with the already emotional aspect of all of those athletes chasing their dreams. I've been mesmerized from the first time I saw the games back when I was a teenager.

With the Winter Olympics being just a few hours north of me in Vancouver, Canada, I've been longing to be there since the location was first announced. I can't imagine the Winter Games will ever be closer to me but it just wasn't in the cards for me to get there.

I think the appeal of the games for me comes in the stories of the struggles some athletes have made to get there. I love those vignettes that feature the personal stories of the athletes, their goals and their inspirations. For some the dream is just to get there. For others it is to win a medal. Still others want nothing less than that gold and to hear the anthem played for their country. For me it doesn't matter which scenario it is, it is about the dream.

Hearing their stories is a reminder that it is really possible to chase one's dreams and be successful despite all the odds. It doesn't matter their dreams are different than mine. It is their struggle that inspires me. It can fill me up and get me back on track when life gets tough and the dream gets a little fuzzy. It can also bring me to tears.

I expect that I will cry at the most unexpected moments when I watch the Olympics. However, I never expected I would cry because of something that happened before the official start of the games. Yet I cannot help but cry hearing of the 21 year old luger from Georgia who was tragically killed in yesterday's training run.

Hearing the official report the accident was the athlete's error didn't strike me as hard as hearing the TV news men's translation. They said the course was designed for the elite of the sport and this 21 year old athlete was too inexperienced to be ready for the ninety mile an hour speeds this track was capable of producing. I guess I heard "an athlete in over his head, fighting for his dream anyway."

It touched me in a familiar way. I felt a connection to this young man trying to defy the odds for the love of his sport. I couldn't help but think this luger from Georgia, formerly part of the Soviet Union, must have been so proud to be there representing his country despite whether he was ranked at the top of his sport or not. What were the odds he would ever get there? Just being there, participating must have been a dream come true.

I'm sure dying there was never in his plan. Yet, from what they say he went down that course giving it everything he had. He was not timid or shy about this world class course. He embraced was his dream after all.

I can't help but think about the risks we all take chasing our dreams. Like this young man some of those risks we take are our very lives. I know when I climb up onto a green horse I am taking such a risk, probably even more so because of my age. I get reminded of it more frequently than I care to admit. Yet I don't let it stop me.

I'm pretty sure this young Georgian would not give up his sport had he seen this wreck happen to someone else. I've already heard that the other men competing in this event have decided to make this a great luge event in honor of their friend. That's the spirit of the Olympics that speaks to me........ keep going no matter what.

I'm sure through the course of this Winter Olympics there will be lots more stories that bring tears to my eyes. Just the thought that other Olympians will continue on chasing their dreams is inspiring, I think. There is so much on the line for so many. I expect I will see more black armbands as athletes honor their fallen comrade as they continue on.

The price I pay pursuing my dream seems small thinking of Nodar Kumaritashvili, his family and his comrades. I can't think of a better inspiration as I continue on in this endeavor of mine. This will not be an Olympics I forget..........especially this luger from Georgia whose name I can't even spell, let alone pronounce.


  1. That is very sad, isn't it? My heart goes out to his friends and family. Such a shame, he was so young!

  2. Although I was a little bored at times during the opening ceremonies, I also love the Olympics and am very proud of my hometown of Vancouver. I've competed in gymnastics and in drum corps, two very different endeavours, but they have the same thing in common -- you have a dream, you work hard and when and if you get the chance to live your dream, its pure magic. A really lovely and insightful post!

  3. I'm really into the games this year. It helps that I'm on vacation and have more time to watch them. I am also watching them with family which adds a bit of excitement!
    I was really sad about the luger, and, angry the media had to show the video. I mean, who wants to watch a video of a crash that resulted in death? I changed the channel really quickly. I heard the lugers are starting down lower on the track, where the women start, and the women are starting even lower. That tells me that the track was too fast. I am sure this is controversial. They say it was the track, some say it wasn't, they say it was inexperience, or error on part of the luger. Who knows, but what is known is that it's a high-risk sport, as many of these compeitions are. And horseback riding too, as you said, is high-risk. But we do it because we love it, it's our passion and dream. Just like these athletes.