KAYE’S CORNER: Cheering for Olympic athletes

MEEKER I The Olympics always hold my attention. The best of the best gather from around the world for inspiring competition and demonstration of their many skills. I always tear up when our American athletes march in the opening ceremonies and when our national anthem is played in honor of a gold medalist. 

Watching sports of so many varieties is fun to me, especially after a year devoid of sports. Who knew skateboarding or mountain climbing would become part of Olympic competitions? 

These athletes have devoted much of their young lives to perfecting their talents, attended endless practice, sweated through many workouts, and given up many everyday joys to hone their sport. I am inspired by both their devotion and capability. 

Did you watch those dual divers, leaping off a diving board in perfect synchrony? Even those who don’t score highest impress me. Diving by itself is hard enough but matching a partner must be a real challenge. 

Frankly, I don’t care how many first places America wins. I just enjoy watching each athlete do his or her best, struggle to the end, and be a good sport. Gold, silver, bronze – yes, it is nice to win, but especially this year just being there is special and never to be replaced. 

I’m sure it is heartbreaking not to win a medal, yet I would like all these talented athletes to know, we appreciate your hard work, your commitment to your sport, and representing your country. I cheer for all of you. 

Perhaps the most important message is watching the good will among competitors from different countries and varying capabilities. At the end, they all hug each other and seem to appreciate the talents among them. 

Families and friends are unable to attend the Olympics this year and it must be hard to compete without your loved ones in the stands, and few cheering. Strangely, as we’ve learned during this period of COVID, our world can adapt. “Watch parties” mean folks at home in group settings all get to cheer together. That’s really cool despite being different. 

Every evening, I think I will monitor myself and decrease my watch time, but then I get hooked, staying up way past my usual bedtime. 

One of the fun things is learning so much about the details of specific sports that I would otherwise never know. Each sport seems to have its own vocabulary and the well-versed announcers understand the nuances that make a difference. 

We were watching a six-hour bicycle competition and while it seemed our American guy was in the lead, at the end, a sprint by other countries overtook him in just the last few miles. Listening to the strategies described by the announcers explained why each decision counted in the end. 

I am awed by the competitors’ expertise, by the rare multi-national kind interactions, and the opportunity to find joy in these tough days by these incredible athletes. 

Thank you, each athlete, your families who support you, your coaches, and all the other folks who bring us these sports. Do your best. Enjoy the moment. Back home, I are cheering for all of you. 

By KAYE SULLIVAN – Special to the Herald Times