John F. Russell: London Olympics inspire Steamboat children
August 4, 2012
Steamboat Springs — I discovered the magic of the Olympic Games as a child growing up in Denver.
Back in those days, when the Olympic Games rolled around, our family would spend more than a few hours in front of the television watching young athletes compete for gold, silver and bronze.
I can't remember exactly who we cheered for or which event captured our attention, but the Olympics gave us the chance to sit down in front of the television and enjoy the games as a family most every night the events filled the small screen.
The action on the television inspired me to dream of someday becoming an Olympic gymnasts, swimmer or runner despite the facts I never had been on a balance beam, my swimming experience was limited to lessons at our local pool and the only track I was familiar with was made for Hot Wheels.
But when I watched the Olympics, none of that seemed to matter. For a few weeks, I had an opportunity to watch the top athletes in the world and to imagine what it would be like to be one of them.
These days, on warm summer evenings, I do my best to encourage my own children to get away from the television. I want them to go outside and kick the soccer ball around the yard or spend some time jumping on the trampoline.
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But this week, I found myself in front of the television with my 10-year-old daughter long before the sun had started to set in the Yampa Valley sky.
She had flipped on the TV and was watching the U.S. Women's gymnastics team compete in London.
It took me back to when I was a child, and I recognized the look in her eyes long before the words came out of her mouth.
"I want to go to the Olympics someday," she said. "I don't think I'm good enough at anything to win a medal, but it would be fun to go anyway. Even if we were just there to watch."
I'm not sure that she understands the importance of winning an Olympic medal or the finer points that go into judging the women's uneven bars, but as she watched Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, compete that didn't seem to matter.
Like most of us, she was captivated by the athletes’ skill, determination and the emotion that is fueled by Olympic dreams. It was the same magic I shared with my family as a child.
The importance of the games, and what it means to be an elite level athlete competing for your country, can grab our attention. It didn't matter that my daughter didn't understand the basic rules of gymnastics because she understood the pride that comes from being the best in the world.
The chance to live that dream is reserved for a few special athletes who have proven that they have what it takes. The good news for the rest of us is that we can share the athletes’ dreams through the magic of the Olympic Games.
To reach John F. Russell call, 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com