Athens Review, Athens, Texas


July 6, 2012

I was once not interested in the Olympics, but now I am

Athens — For the past few days the Olympic trials have started to warm up my appetite for the games.

Four years ago, I didn't have any particular interest in the competition, until it started. Then I got riveted to the TV watching Michael Phelps swim to win-after-win.

I was caught up in the gymnastics drama where Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson became the first Americas to finish 1-2 in the women's all-round.

Soon I was watching wrestling, boxing, cycling, track and even field. No matter how I try to ignore them, the Olympics seem to have a special appeal.

When I was a kid, it didn't matter who was competing on our side, just so we beat the Soviet Union.  The USSR made the perfect foe with their regimented brilliance. They were machines – robots who came to conquer our athletes, just like they meant to bury our nation. Or at least, that's what we thought.

Then in 1972, the Soviet gymnastic team included a little dynamo name, Olga Korbut. She didn't win the all-around, but put on a show in the floor exercise and on the balance beam that won the hearts of a whole bunch of Americans.

In those days, the U.S. women were lucky to snatch an occasional bronze medal in gymnastics. Olga's performance had a lot to do with the increased interest in the sport over here, and ultimately with the powerful team we have headed for London today.

Olga's impact was only a foreshadowing of what would happen in Montreal four years later. Romanian Nadia Comeniche rocked the world, by not only winning the women's all-round with a perfect score.

A short time later, Nadia's coach Bela Karolyi, moved to the good old U.S., and trained our first women's all-round champ, Mary Lou Retton, in 1984.

One thing I loved about those Olympic games in the late 1960s and early 1970s was the coverage they got on ABC Sports. Jim McKay was the man in the booth, anchoring the telecasts. In 1972, he became the face of the coverage of the most memorable Olympic story in my lifetime.

Up until that point, the Olympic Games had been a time when the differences between cultures, governments and political systems was set aside, while dedicated young men and women battled it out on wrestling mats, balance beams and basketball courts.

Sure, there would be an occasional dispute over a gymnastics score, or how many seconds should be on the game clock, but by-and-large, the games were what they were meant to be.

Then, one day in Munich, that all changed. The meet that year had been dubbed "The happy games," by the West German officials.

For more than a week, it appeared the Munich games would live up to that name. Then, on Sept. 5, members of a Palestinian terrorist group broke into the Olympic Village, and kidnapped nine Israeli athletes, coaches and officials. The world watched for hours, hoping for the best. Those hopes were shattered when a somber McKay revealed their fate.

"They're all gone." he said.

They had accepted the challenge of coming to Munich to represent their small nation on the world stage. Now they were all dead. In that devastating moment, the outside world got inside the Olympic Village, and reminded us what a fragile ideal the games really are.

That was 40 years ago.  Thankfully, in spite of of the tragedy, the games carry on, bringing us up-close and personal glimpses of young men and women experiencing the "thrill of victory," and the "agony of defeat."

Here's hoping that those who come home without medals will appreciate the time they got to show their talents, and represent their countries on the greatest stage of all.

I can't wait.

Rich Flowers is News Editor of the Athens Daily Review.

Text Only
  • Wilson mug.JPG Rolling into something new

    She did it.
    My baby girl rolled over for the first time this past week while daddy and mommy were watching closely.
    As other major news broke across the county, watching my baby roll over for the first time was by far the biggest news of the week for me. Odd.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Joe new mug.jpg Fanfare is a time to prepare for another season

    I love to see the talent our student athletes have across Henderson County. To know that each player puts in the blood, sweat and tears to play for a district championship and hopefully a state title is something special to see.
    Another great in the world of sports is a player who is retiring this season in New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
    Jeter once said, “There may be people who have more talent than you, but there's no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do — and I believe that.”

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • kathi New  copy.jpeg The greatest country in the world has hungry children

    No child should go hungry. We are the greatest country in the world, yet we have hungry children.
    An article I recently read said that if a child in school can't afford lunch, they will be given a sandwich and water. I was told the sandwich is cheese between two pieces of bread.
    I hope everyone realizes that is what they serve in the county jail. Not that I know this from personal experience. I was told from someone who did know from experience.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Hakuna Matata, what a wonderful phrase

    Hakuna Matata! What a wonderful phrase.
    Hakuna Matata! Ain't no passing craze.
    It means no worries for the rest of your days.
    It's our problem-free philosophy.
    Hakuna Matata!
    Congratulations, if you have watched the Lion King a couple of times you now have this song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg It was a week in the depth of heat, then cooler

    Sunday and Monday of this week have been very uncomfortable.  The air conditioner at our house has been down, and the temperature outside and in the house have been way up.
    Thank God for the blessing of the cool temperatures and the rain that fell on Tuesday, then on Wednesday.  It changed things just a little bit.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Time away is necessary for everyone

    I can remember as a kid writing essays on “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” As the years pass, and we are more in-tune with the workplace, those vacations get shorter and shorter.
    Do you ever have those days  when you just need a vacation? Sometimes you just need to get away.
    Taking time off work should be fun and rejuvenating. We all need a recharge every now and then. But vacations aren't what they use to be. We rarely disconnect ourselves from our jobs.

    July 12, 2014

  • Joe new mug.jpg Student athletes: Time to wake up and get to work

    Hey student athletes, it is about time for you to wake up and get to work.
    Your summer is coming to an end, and the early morning wake up calls for practices are right around the corner.
    I am talking to the football players, volleyball players, cross country kids, band members, drill team members and cheerleaders.

    July 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wilson mug.JPG Remember who you are

    Are you running so fast that you have forgotten why you started the race in the first place?
    Life moving at a blistering pace that it is tough to keep up?
    Maybe it is time to stop, take a deep look into the pool of water and remember. Remember who you are.
    On numerous occasions, I have had to do just that. Ironically, various movies have caused me to look inside.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Jeff's mug.jpg CSUMC provided a memorable experience

    My wife Jean and I went to a very interesting, and what I consider a very unique event last Saturday night.
    I had heard that the church where we are members, Carroll Springs United Methodist Church, was having an event in which people sitting in the audience would sing their favorite hymns into a microphone.

    July 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rich mug.jpg Independence ultimately won on battlefield

    I always enjoy celebrating Independence Day, and hearing some of the stirring words written in the Declaration of Independence.
    Thomas Jefferson wrote that our Creator has given us certain rights, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The way I see it, if I have life and liberty, that gives me a pretty good start on the third one.
    But as eloquent as our founding fathers were, and how moving the texts they left behind, one fact can’t be overlooked. Our independence was ultimately won and secured on the battlefield.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

Biz Marquee
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive