Sunday, August 15, 2004

Olympics = Memories

Four years ago, we were at Wright State finishing our degree. We were definitely broke (or nearly so) and burdened with academics, yet we periodically huddled together near the TV watching some of tbe best athletes ever. These Olympics remind me of those times. A few athletes come to mind - Ian Thorpe (Australia), Marion Jones (USA), and of course the one that nobody remembers except me - Svetlana Khorkina. Only a few people probably remember her as constantly as me, comparing some of her hurdles to some of mine. I don't know why, but I'd rather support the underdog than the defender. It's very natural. And at those games, she came in as a champion and left out as the vanquished. This is her story, a story known to four people for sure - me , Sajid, Nidhi and Shalini - for they witnessed it with me, every moment.

Hers was a tragic tale. She was supposed to be the best Russian gymnast and their hope for the medals. Yet, she did had a disastrous fall on the double bars and a very poor run on the rings. She was in tears but the rest of the team had to carry on since the gold depended on team effort not on an individual. What broke my heart was that in the final event, she actually gave her place away to another Russian just so that her country could have their best shot at the gold medal. Can you imagine what that would feel like at an Olympic event? To give away your place to another and throw away years of effort for the greater goal. The girl who got the chance did come first in that event, but Team Russia got a silver overall. I still remember her because of what she had to give away. She's now a forgotten memory for most, but her tragic story stays with me.

For more on this story, go to and scroll down to "September, Sydney Olympic Games".

Fortunately for me, she's back at this year's Olympics and that is extremely unusual for a 25 year old. Gymnasts start their careers early and end them early. At 25, she is way past her prime to regain world title. Nevertheless, she'd be a treat to watch. Here's her story for this year's Olympics.



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