|Olga Korbut on balance beam 1972, courtesy Google Images|
To me, the Olympics are the most motivating and invigorating event to grace my television screen (even with the annoying and cloying commercials). Watching the best of the best perform in a sport—any sport—is immensely inspirational. We know it takes thousands of hours (and days) of serious commitment to perfect a sport and to hone the machine that accomplishes that sport—the body. Years or actually decades of years are invested. There are injuries, illnesses, accidents, time and money constraints that can interfere with one’s goal. And when you see the people who show up against these tremendous odds— well, it just is something else: it is magical.
|Gabby Douglas on balance beam 2012, courtesy Google Images|
There are so many stories that left me inspired and teary-eyed, and I know everyone who watched the summer games has a special affiliation for an athlete or a team that touched them. We all rooted for athletes from our land and other countries too, because it was about the individual's or the team's effort not their geography. I will not forget the first Sunday morning I spent watching the Women’s Cycling Road Race. It was held in typically-British wet weather complete with slick shiny roads and water droplets on the cameras; and the thrill of the final sprint at the end after hours of bike riding by Marianne Vos of the Netherlands crossing the finish line inches ahead of Elizabeth Armitstead of Great Britain.
|Marianne Vos at the finish line, photo courtesy Google Images|
|The Amazing Michael Phelps, photo courtesy Google Images|
|Equestrian Jumping, photo courtesy Google Images|
|Misty May-Treanor and Kerry Walsh winning gold, photo courtesy Google Images|
|In sync - synchronized divers, photo courtesy Google Images|
|Oscar Pistorius taking off, photo courtesy of Google Images|
|Colorado Olympian Missy Franklin, photo courtesy Google Images|
Each day that I spent watching these athletes inspired me to get my sneakers on and run longer and faster or to put on my tank suit and swim harder and better. They say there are two types of motivation: Intrinsic motivation which comes from within and is the desire to do something because we find it enjoyable; and extrinsic motivation which comes from outside stimuli such as praise, awards or financial gain. The high-level of competition exhibited in the Olympics is a curious balance between these two kinds of motivation: doing something because it feels fabulous when you do it well, and then doing it harder because you may win that shiny round medal for your country and get well paid for a commercial. All I can say is that these athletes from around the world motivated me to get off the couch (when I wasn’t watching them perform on TV, that is). It was a good thing after all – all this television watching. And when it ended, I was quite sad and felt a bit empty. But I take heart; in less than two years I will be watching the Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014. That’s when I will probably get out my snow skis and make better turns. Gotta go do some laps.