I admit it…I am an Olympic junkie! I will watch sports I have never heard of if they come with a gold medal and plenty of fanfare! During the London games I became enamored with Handball, water polo, skeet shooting and who knows what else. My family thought the “non-sports” girl had gone crazy, but who cares. It’s a wild world of sports out there and I can’t wait for the games in Sochi to begin!
In honor of the Olympic tradition, I decided to chronicle some of the most memorable moments of the games.
Watching the Opening Ceremonies in Lake Placid. This was the first time I ever saw the Olympic opening ceremonies and I was hooked. I was in the second grade I believe and home sick with the flu but I will never forget my mom turning the games on and telling me that I would never forget it. She was right!
The victory of the 1980 USA Men’s hockey team. Later commemorated in the movie Miracle, I remember when this happened and how excited everyone was that Team USA had taken the gold. I remember the goalie skating around with the American flag draped around his shoulders, wearing his mask and I couldn’t help thinking that he looked like Jason from Friday the 13th. It was also cool to see this same amazing team light the Olympic torch in Salt Lake City 20 years later.
The Jamaican bobsled team. Run that around in your brain a few times and tell me what’s wrong with that statement. If you’ve seen Cool Runnings, then you know the story, but yes- Jamaica has a bobsled team and managed to qualify for the Olympics in 1988, 1992 and 1994 but sadly have been unable to qualify for any of the subsequent winter games. More’s the pity…I kinda liked seeing them.
The Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan scandal. What a drama! For those of you old enough to remember it, I won’t go into all the details, but if you are too young, here’s the Cliff Notes version: not long before the Olympic trials, Nancy Kerrigan was attacked in the knee by someone who was known by fellow skater Tonya Harding’s ex-husband. What happened after that was tabloid TV at its finest. Every night we heard another “shocking” story about Ms. Harding who was ultimately banned from the US Figure Skating Association for life. Nancy took home the silver medal but was upstaged by a young Oksana Baiul for the top spot. Turns out, Nancy wasn’t the ice princess that everyone made her out to be when some snarky comments she made about Oksana were broadcast around the world.
Mary Lou Retton winning gold. I’m too young to remember Nadia’s perfect 10 but the legend of that moment was seared into my mind going into the L.A. games of 1994 that I hoped to see someone top that performance. I remember staying up late and being glued to the TV to see Retton pull off a perfect 10 not once but twice on her vault and then seeing her become the first woman (girl) to grace the Wheaties box. What a role model!
The 1992 Dream Team. There was a lot of buzz about the formation of the “ultimate” basketball team and in 1992, the US did not disappoint. It was, in fact a dream team long before fantasy leagues would allow people to put the best of the best on the same team and dominate the competition. MJ, Magic, Bird, Barkley, Pippen, Ewing, and the rest…simply took the competition by storm, lived like ordinary olympians and displayed phenomenal sportsmanship as they brought home the gold for Team USA.
Kerri Strug landing on one foot. OK Kid, team gold is within our reach, time is running out and it’s all on you, but don’t stress out…and don’t twist your ankle. When Kerri Strug took off on the first of her two vaults, it seemed like it could be a done deal for the Women’s Gymnastics team, but then she landed funny on her ankle and into the history books when she opted to make the second vault and land on one foot. Her pain was the country’s game in Atlanta and overnight, she became a superstar teen who captured the world’s hearts.
Michael Phelps breaking the gold medal record. It wasn’t enough that he took home eight gold medals in one Olympics, but then he came back four years later and claimed the all-time gold medal record. I remain convinced that this guy is part fish, but he was truly spectacular to watch. Phelps has said that 2012 was his last Olympics, but who knows what will happen in 2016? Personally, I applaud him for leaving on a high note.