Four years ago, the Urchins watched the Olympics together in London. Now that the Olympics are in London and we’re stretched across the globe from each other, we thought we’d reminisce about our favourite Olympic events.
When I was younger, women’s gymnastics was the be all and end all of the summer Olympics for me. There was something about the fact that the girls were either my age or an age I would soon be that made them seem more accessible than any of the other athletes. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that they also got to perform their routines, smiles and all, don fancy ribbons in their hair, and bedazzle their leotards. They were amazing athletes but still got to be girls.
Nowadays, I’m a bit more inclined to the shocking feats of human athleticism produced in the track and field events. I still love gymnastics, though now it’s mostly because of the gymnastics commentators on the BBC, the kindest, most supportive, and most invested announcers in sport. They’re so invested, in fact, that they are famous (among the Urchins at least) for gasping mid-broadcast if someone does an amazing maneuver/falls/unexpectedly wins/loses. During the Beijing Olympics, we coined this the ‘gymnast gasp,’ and I’m overjoyed to report that fours years later it’s still going strong.
Every four years, instead of dealing with the void of the NBA offseason, I get to watch twelve of the league’s best players and highest competitors join forces, not unlike the Avengers or the Justice League, and play as a team. Sure, the NBA does that once a year with the All-Star Game, but the game is usually a light-hearted affair with absolutely no defence. The Olympic Mens Basketball games are different. The expectations for the US team are more than high; they are expected to win gold every time they compete. With basketball becoming more and more of an international sport, the competition is tougher, upsets are more likely, and the games are more intense and more fun to watch.
Additionally, this is the first Olympics following the advent of Instagram, which many of the team’s players use, so we the fans are treated with some wonderful behind-the-scenes takes.
When I was younger, I begged and begged to be allowed to try gymnastics. My mother decided I would probably break myself and so I was banned from the sport. It was a good thing too, because I then developed my enduring love for track and field. To me, this is the purest representation of human ability and competition. And of all the track and field events, the high jump is my absolute favourite to watch and TV’s least favourite to show. I’ll admit, the high jump isn’t as glamorous as the 100m or the hurdles or the javelin – no one leans in for a spectacular nose of a finish, face plants after tripping, or gets stabbed. However, what the TV doesn’t capture is the internal, mental anguish of the high jumper. That’s right – everything from the speed of approach, precise moment of jump, the timing of arching your back (and more) determines whether or not you soar gracefully over the bar or smack it with your face.
What’s your favourite Olympic event?