Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Olympic Spirit

I haven’t been too excited about the Olympics this year. I’m not really sure why. I think I’ve been a bit pessimistic about how China’s going to do being in the spotlight. Was there enough infrastructure in place? What about all of the politics? And all the protests. On top of that, I’m kind of more of a Winter Olympics gal. The ice skating, skiing, hockey, all a little bit more appealing than track and field, judo and weightlifting to me.

I haven’t been paying too much attention, and found myself even unable to name many athletes beyond Michael Phelps and the members of the Redeem Team that I know from my NBA days. Well, boy, was I in for a surprise.

I missed Opening Ceremonies and didn’t even really intend to watch them. But when I saw my sister and friends the morning after, all everyone could talk about was how amazing the ceremonies were. And how there were 2008 drummers, and what about the performers, dancers, costumes, lighting, Bird’s Nest arena, and torch lighting ceremony and on and on and on.

Thanks to my dad (who taped the Opening Ceremonies since I still don't have TiVo!), I was able to tune in. A few days late, but better late than never. I learned that China wasn’t even awarded the 2008 Olympics until 2001—only giving them seven short years to prepare. Amazing. The number of performers and the technological advances that were made in that time is unreal. I think this was the most amazing Opening Ceremonies I have ever seen in my life. There were times when they were using amazing technology (did you see the size of that LCD screen??)…and then the times when they weren’t (those blocks were all manipulated by people?? WOW!)

As I was watching, I found myself in complete awe of everything. Literally each and every performance had my full, uninterrupted attention. Come on, how often does that happen these days in a world where there are always too many things vying for your attention? I couldn’t believe how organized and the amount of practice and hard work that went into this. Each and every performance was very thoughtful, educational, and poignant.

Even all of the commercials! For those of you watching on TiVo, you’re missing out! The commercials are brilliant. And yes, a tad cheesy, but they’re cute! (Who is doing ads for Coke these days? I think they’ve still got it!) Think of all of the money that as put into this!

Yes, I’m American. But I’m also Chinese. And not one to always be proud of all of the decisions my native China makes, as I was watching, I found myself swelling up with pride. And with that, I find myself thinking about my mom. She would have been fascinated by all of this and could have really appreciated all of the thought and artistry of these opening ceremonies! I wish she was here so I could be watching this with her. I know we’d be admiring and commenting on all of the costumes, the dancers, the music, the art, the colors.

Me and Mom with a cup of coffee. Another one of the things we enjoyed frequently together!

I’ve come full circle. I’ve gone from feeling bleh about the Olympics to being totally engaged. Did you know there’s synchronized diving? AMAZING! And the swimming competitions have been so awesome to watch. Not to mention…umm, go USA men’s gymnastics team! I’m finding myself on the edge of my seat, and staying up way too late each night, just to tune in (and ok, the fact that these athletes have pretty amazing bodies is reason enough to tune in!) In any case, now it's time to show some USA pride, time to cheer on the team. And if you’re ever in doubt for which country to route for behind the USA? I’d say Go China!

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