As the 2012 Summer Olympic Games start, I always have an incredible sense of excitement. I do love the Olympics. I can't say the Games are free of politics, but from the athlete level it is as pure a competition as you can get. I can't help but feel a great sense of national pride watching the US Olympic Team.
One particularly inspiring Olympic moment was when the United States gymnastics team won the gold medal in the 1986 Atlanta Olympic Games. The unforgettable moment was watching Houston gymnast Kerri Strug on the vault during the team competition. The vault was one of her strongest events, but on her first vault, she landed wrong and injured her ankle. At the time, her team's gold medal victory was dependant on her landing a second vault.
As Strug limped to the end of the runway, she heroically vaulted to perfection, landed briefly on both feet and quickly stood solidly on her one healthy foot and ankle before collapsing. With that vault, Strug secured a gold medal for her team, the first (and, to date only) team Olympic gold for the US Gymnastics women's team.
Followers of my blog would now expect me to editorialize that Kerri should not have completed that second vault; that vaulting on an injured ankle is not recommended. You will not get that. As an elite gymnast, the Olympic Games is the Super Bowl, World Series, and Stanley Cup all rolled into one. Her entire gymnastics career culminated in this moment. No....Kerri had to vault for herself, her team, and her country.
I hope we all take some time in the coming weeks to watch the 2012 London Olympic Games. Appreciate the pride each athlete feels when stepping on that podium and hearing their national anthem. Also recognize the effort and sacrifice that each and every athlete, from the gold medal winner to those who come in last, commits in the name of athletic excellence and national pride.