The impact that the Olympic games have had on the world as well as on the individuals who participate in them.
Comments (2)|9 Liked It
If my calendar is correct, there has been two thousand and eight years since the start of the Common Era, but more specifically one hundred twelve years have past since the first modern Olympic Games took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. From that time the world has come together, despite many global issues and differences, every four years to celebrate and participate in the most elite sporting event on the planet. Five interconnected rings on a white background are more than just a creative logo designed to market this spectacle of athleticism. They signify the coming together of enemies and allies on a peaceful, yet competitive, world stage displaying the best that each country has to offer in the way of athletic talent. It starts with a single flame ignited in the ancient birthplace of the Games in Olympia, Greece and is concluded with champions who return to their home countries as heroes and heroines.
From beginning to end, the Games of the Olympiad are conducted with class and honor, and considering the quality of athletes who take part, it is easy to understand why. Carl Bond of Sweden, Tadahiro Nomura of Japan, Michelle Smith of Ireland, Janos Martinek of Hungary, Carl Lewis of the United States, and Liu Xuan of China are just a few of the talented athletes that have stood atop the highest podium in sports over the years and received a gold medal in their respective sports for themselves and for their countries. Shannon Miller of the 1996 U.S. women’s gold medal gymnastic team speaks with a tremendous sense of pride in her family contributions as well as what it means on a national level to compete in the Olympics. Miller’s first gold medal was the team victory she shared with her teammates and her second was for an individual effort on the balance beam. “It couldn’t have been any better,” Miller recalls of her experience winning her first gold medal in Atlanta. “It was so very hard fought and in the end, to hear the crowd chanting, “USA USA,” it was amazing. There is nothing I enjoyed more than slipping on the red, white and blue.”
Taken seriously by spectators, but even more seriously by the athletes themselves, is the sense of importance to one’s country that each event represents, which was famously displayed in the 1936 Berlin Olympics by the performance of Jesse Owens. Named an Ambassador of Sports by U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower in 1955, Owens won a total of four Gold medals in the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, the long jump and the 4 x 100 meter relay at the Berlin Games, much to the chagrin of then Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who was using the Olympics as a way to show the world that Germany was once again a world power and also to prove that the Aryan-race was superior in every way. Owens, as well as many other athletes over the years, crossed political and racial lines with his victories, which, in this instance, might be called a foreshadow of events to come as the German regime was toppled just eight years later at the conclusion of World War II, just as Owens defeated them on the track.