|image from eonline.com|
The London 2012 Summer Olympics is finally over. It started with a bang; it ended with a bang. It has met a lot of opposition, even unrest in the past year, yet the games went on. The games pushed through and so did the thousands of athletes, volunteers, and organizers who were responsible for this grand event. Every sweat, every tear, every sleepless night of working, negotiating, planning, and putting into action--all for sixteen days of competition.
I wasn't a really huge fan of the Olympics. In my lifetime, I should have watched about five Olympic games, but I didn't. Excuse the first two games because I was probably still absorbed in my discovery of the world, but the past games, I haven't been paying attention.
I remember the Atlanta Olympics because of Shannon Miller. She was my favorite athlete and gymnast, but I didn't know who she was until about a few days ago. I watched almost all the Artistic Gymnastics events, and through all of it, I listened to the hosts. One of them was Shannon Miller. I didn't recognize her, not yet. It was only when I kept thinking of the gymnast who sprained her ankle when she landed during the Olympics yet she stood up and waved at the crowd, the one who needed to be carried away from the mat because she couldn't stand anymore, only then did I find the initiative to search her on the Internet. And I was surprised. I've been listening to the girl who's inspired me for so long and I didn't even know it. I distinctly remember telling myself, This host knows a lot to have made such comments as the slight separation of the feet during a double-twisting Yurchenko, a form distortion, or a lack of arm extension. She must be a gymnast. Oh, how right I was.
I watched a couple of other sports events during the London Olympics. I watched the opening and the closing ceremonies. I watched the BMX and the canoeing events. I checked the medal tallies whenever I find a wifi hotspot. Someone told me I was an Olympics addict. Maybe, maybe not. All I know is that I have wanted to attend the London 2012 Olympics since the close of the Beijing Olympics.
Despite that, I satiated the desire through late night alarms just to watch events on TV. This is not dedication, however. Dedication is what we watched for the past two weeks.
I'm going to make references to the gymnastics and synchronized swimming events because those were the ones I waited for.
When I was watching the gymnasts jump off beams and uneven bars, something made me think. These athletes spend four years and more training for a ninety-second routine, a jump on the vault, or a somersault on the floor. These athletes stretch, bend, and strengthen for that one moment when everyone, especially the judges, are watching them, that one moment when everything they've ever trained for finally gets noticed. That one moment is crucial. That one moment needs to be perfect. One slip up and everything you've worked for will disappear. One slip up and your dream of an Olympic medal will never materialize. All the hard work and all the hours spent on one routine will be judged and weighed on the Olympic floor. And everything that happens there is the result of what you've done for the past four years.
I'm talking about perseverance. I'm talking about running races for the win. I'm talking about going the distance and making sure you're strong enough to get there.
We're all athletes. We're all runners, and we all have an Olympic gold we want to wear someday. We run with anticipation. We exercise, we work out strategies, and we even plan Bs and Cs and Ds just in case plan A doesn't work. We run because we have a goal we have fixed our eyes on. But is that the gold we have to reach for? Is that the gold that we were made for?
Are we running in the wrong lane toward the wrong finish line?
The synchronized swimmers spend almost twelve hours a day, five days a week, and eight hours on Saturdays just to perfect their routine. Each leg extension is measured. Each large breath that keeps them alive underwater has been practiced. Every move is calculated because they spent hours upon hours perfecting it.
What are we doing to reach our goal? What are we doing to get where we are supposed to be?
Some say that the end justifies the means. For a gold medal in the Olympics, I guess the means is just as important as the end. After all, who wants to receive a medal just because of a protest or an enemy forfeited. We have the human instinct to win by fighting. That's why sometimes we find it hard to grasp the concept of grace.
For every second in the world, we are weighed and measured. Some for their assurance, others for their reward. Whichever category, we are all running. The question is, can we go the distance and are we running toward the right finish line?
The athletes of the 2012 London Olympics have proven themselves to the world. Medalists have shown that their hard work has paid off. Nonmedalists have shown that they have either lacked training or have bigger space for improvement. Nevertheless, the athletes of the games have tried hard and finished well.
What about us? Will we finish well? Will we finish at all?
I watched the Olympic flame get extinguished during the closing ceremony and I felt bittersweet sadness. I was sad that the games are over. It told me that the dreams of some of those athletes will never come true. Some will never be in an Olympic stadium, competing for a gold for their country anymore. Some will be discouraged or will find greener pastures in other endeavors. And then there are those who will pass on to the final finish line of life. But I also felt happy because with every extinguishing of the flame comes tiny sparks of hope in each person's heart. There will be another set, another season, another group of athletes fighting. There will be another event to look forward to. But this is only for the Olympics.
What about when our flames get extinguished? Where will you be going?
I have answers, but I want to hold back a bit. Let your mind wander. What next? What now? What then?
Until the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics, I congratulate the Olympians and the athletes and each country represented. You have indeed inspired a generation.