“They came to collect silver and gold”
If you’ve visited here before you know I am an insatiable sports fan. I am also a proud American and a huge fan of the Olympic Games. Summer. Winter. Para.
I was lucky enough to attend one, the 1960 Winter Games at Squaw Valley. We lived in Reno, Nevada at the time. My Dad, who was GM at a TV station there, was head of the broadcasting committee. A guy named Jean Vuarnet won the downhill (years later I would buy a pair of sunglasses named for him). The USA beat Canada for hockey gold and Americans won gold in men’s and women’s figure skating. In all Team USA finished third in the medal count with 10.
I don’t remember any of it. I was 5.
Fast forward fifty-eight years and my wife got a job with the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. A pretty big job. A job that meant I was about to attend Olympic Games that I’d be able to remember starting with The Tokyo Summer Games in 2020.
Well, you know what happened.
Thanks to Covid-19 she went to Tokyo with Team USA. Without me. For three weeks my schedule was turned upside down staying up until all hours of the night staring at one, two, or three tv’s AND my phone. After all there was a lot going on. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of Mountain Time in the USA so I’d get to talk to my bride twice a day. Once when she got up (late afternoon for me) and once when she went to bed (usually just before my morning dog walk). It wasn’t anywhere near enough but it had to do. We’d talk about her day and the amazing accomplishments and bitter disappointments of Team USA on the field of play. We’d talk about her plans for the next day, which events she’d attend, with whom she’d meet. It was my daily job to give her updates on results via a phone app. It was a job I took extremely seriously. So I watched. Night and day. Living and dying with every event, checking the medal count, dozing off and awakening before the alarm, which I had set at 3 AM to watch wrestling, went off. It was exhilarating and exhausting. In the end it was all more than worth it.
I was glued to my devices, as incredible men and women from all over the globe, competed. I watched with pride whenever someone from Team USA took the field. Through it all, Covid sidelining our men’s pole vault medal hopeful, Simone Biles shocking withdrawal, protests, extreme conditions, and no fans, these Games were not found wanting. They thrilled and they inspired. They introduced us to “new sports” and made us remember what we love about the “old ones”. They showcased the best athletes in the world who impressed us with their athleticism AND their sportsmanship.
And as I write this these Games are NOT over. Several events are still to be decided and many medals yet to be hung around athlete’s necks but up to now these are, in no particular order, my favorite Team USA Olympic moments.
Lydia Jacoby and Seward, Alaska
Women’s 3 x 3 hoops
Tamyra Mensah Stock
Women’s Water Polo
Sam Mikulak, Allyson Felix, Kara Winger, and Brittany Reese
I realize that’s a lot of “favorite moments” but MAN there was a lot to like. If some of the names are unfamiliar I humby suggest you look them up. You won’t be sorry you did.
If you were one of the folks who claimed you “didn’t watch” I feel sorry for you because you missed a hell of a show.
Team USA will come home with their heads held high, and they should. Then they’ll turn around and head to Beijing for the XXIV Winter Games. As of now it looks like I’ll be watching those from the good old U S of A too. I know it’s not about me but damn I want to go. Maybe Paris.