So, I love me some Olympics. So do my sisters, Nikki and Maria, and we definitely get this from my mom, who has loved them for as long as I can remember. In fact, she has been known to purchase new and bigger televisions solely in anticipation of the Olympics and all their glory. My dad (Jack) somehow managed to avoid this before the current Olympiad, probably because they have maxed out as far as screen size and HD capability.
Yes, my mom (Ann) is probably the biggest (and by far the most vocal) Olympic fan of all of us. She doesn’t discriminate between the Winter and Summer Games, either. In the Winter her favorite event is of course the figure skating. Men, women, and pairs. In the Summer it’s the gymnastics and the swimming/diving events. It’s not just the sports we love - it's the drama...
Let me share some Olympic mems from my childhood.
1984 - Mary Lou Retton won the Women’s All-Around Gymnastics gold medal! I was only 4, but I remember the excitement around the house. I also remember a Mary Lou poster on the fridge and several boxes of Mary Lou Wheaties on the table. See above. Mary Lou was my hero! Actually, I don’t actually recall Mary Lou being my hero as much as I recall my mom telling me (and others) that Mary Lou was my hero ...... I just realized this morning (Mary Lou was on the Today show) that Mary Lou was probably more my mom’s hero that year, but she liked to tell people that her hero was Mother Theresa, so I inherited Mary Lou as my hero. That’s fine - she’s cool.
1988 - We’re still in the middle of the cold war. All I really remember about this year was my mom rooting against the athletes from the communist countries, hoping they would choke so that the Americans could win the gold and teach the world a lesson about freedom. Poor Katarina Witt from East Germany. It wasn’t her fault. She won gold anyway. I remember because she skated to "Bad" by Michael Jackson, which we thought was sooo cool, and then hated ourselves for liking it.
1992 - Barcelona! This was the year we really got back into gymnastics. It was the year Kim Zmeskal and Shannon Miller and Betty Okino ruled for the US. I remember we thought they were all normal sized until we found out their actual heights. They were all like under 5 feet, except for Betty Okino, who was like 5'2 and towered over everyone else. I remember Maria saying she thought Betty Okino was like 6'1. What are these folks up to, anyway? I need to look them up.
1994 - The 1994 Olympics - more like drama-lympics. This was the year Tanya Harding’s husband hired someone to club Nancy Kerrigan’s knee. Mom thought NK was a brat. I concur.
1996 - Atlanta! I was 16 and sooo excited the Olympics were in Atlanta. As if we were going to get front row tickets or something as Pensacolians. Anyway, the women’s gymnastics team won the gold this year after Kerri Strug stuck the landing on her vault on one leg. Tears! I caught it all for posterity on my VCR. This was my last Olympics at home, too. Sad.
Since then I’ve been watching but never as intently as when I did during the aforementioned years. Anyway, I’m back into it this year bigtime... everyone tune in tonight for the women’s gymnastics all-around. The two Americans are the best and favored to take the Gold and Silver. One of them will grace the Wheaties box for a new generation.