Unsung “heroes”?

I’ve been pretty engrossed with the Olympic trials this past few weeks.  We have had Swimming, Track and Field, and Gymnastics.

It’s all been terribly exciting for me.   To begin with, I rub elbows with many of the Track and Field stars, so seeing them on TV was a thrill.  I really kid myself that I have any connection to them.  We do use the same gym and the same massage therapist.  But, despite that, my results are- less that Olympic-.  They know me and I know them, we nod heads at each other, sometimes say hello, occasionally have a chat about the weather-the bad music at the gym, etc.  We don’t however, go out to the movies or for spaghetti etc.

There have been some triumphant scenes.

This is a very long video,  if you look at the last minute you will see Evan Jager having a blast with his victory.

And some heartbreaking ones.

Click here to see Julia Lucas discuss how she “gave away” the 5000m race.

This year there has been many more television hours dedicated to both Track and Field and Swimming.  As I was watching one night, I noticed I was watching heat after heat of sprinters and heat after heat of women swimming the same event.  That got me wondering.  Just how many participants are at these trials?  For the Summer Games in Beijing 596 American Athletes represented their Country in a variety of sports…from Fencing to rowing, to gymnastics to Steeplechase.  At the swimming trials this year over 1500 swimmers are participating!  It is a similar amount for Track and Field, but then a paltry amount of 15 men and 15 women for the Gymnastics.

I was astounded to see the high number of participants.  Especially those who know they have no chance at making the Olympic teams.    I very much understand high performing teenagers who are at these meets- they are there to gain experience so that when the next 4 years roll round and they are no longer 14 years old, they are as ready as can be.

The USA swimming web site has really done a nice site to showcase ALL the swimmers and their various stories, and dreams.  I do find some of them very interesting.  But at the same time, I wonder why someone puts in that much physical work, and monetary expense to go to a game they can’t win.  Yes, there are occasional upsets, but in reality…there are very few, you get  on race day the combination of who you are mentally, genetically and what you put into training.  While you might run, swim, floor exercise your way to a personal best…it’s likely that you have been edging up to that Personal Best for a few weeks or months.  And in case you think that training is somehow “fun” let me clarify that it is not that fun.  Moments are fun, but a lot of it is plain hard work, hurting, and pushing yourself beyond limits.

So it’s unlikely that many are at the trials thinking they will advance through the heats to face Tyson Gay and just blow his shorts off when they have never come close before.  I’m sure though that has been a dream of many though!

Is it just to say, “I competed at the Olympic Trials?”  Possibly.  I imagine there is a bit of bragging rights associated with this.  I admit, I was super impressed when a friends brother was swimming in the trials.  Now that I know that 1500 people swam and the multiple multiple heats involved, I admit, I am less impressed.

People argue that it is for the love of the Sport.  I suppose this is also possible.  The athletes coming to the trials are all really exceptional people.  None of them are your average Joe or Jane tooling up and down the lap pool at the Y.  They have all made a commitment that goes beyond the normal to their chosen sport.

I don’t really know.  Hoping that all the Athletes take from the trials something valuable for their lives.


4 thoughts on “Unsung “heroes”?

  1. I tend to equate people who work toward the Olympics with those who do 50 mile runs or other extreme sport events. I think there is something in their genetic make-up that urges them to keep pushing further and harder – just to see if they can. To see how far they can go.

    I definitely do not have that gene (or whatever it is). LOL!

    • I still have it in my mind that one day I will do the 55 miler in South Africa. Not today though. I think with a lot of Olympians, they got into the sport, got noticed, and then ding ding ding…all things fell into place. I often wonder how many people are out there running fast, or swimming fast and are completely content to not race….do they exist?

  2. We have a couple of local kids in the track and field trials, so I was following the hurdles and relays yesterday. Sacramento also has several swimming clubs that regularly send kids to the Olympics (remember Mark Spitz?), so it’s always fun to see if they’ll show up in the finals.

    It also reminds me of when I used to root for my son when he was in track during high school. He was a sprinter, but he didn’t want to spend all of his spare time training, as the coach wanted him to. So he dropped out. I understood, but a little part of me was disappointed. My family didn’t encourage athletics, even though Dad played baseball in high school, so it was exciting to see my kids enjoy non-team sports.

  3. At least in the marathon, I think of it as sort of a killer step beyond qualifying for Boston. I’ve had a couple of friends miss the Olympic qualifying time by a minute or two, but it’s what they were shooting for as a goal. I had a friend qualify, and she ran in the trials- not that she thought she’d make it, but because it was a super cool experience.

    I hope some of the hopefuls you’re seeing on TV have the same sort of feeling.

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