Category Archives: OLYMPICS

One world, one dream

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The Olympic flame burned brightly in China during the summer of 2008

There has been much wringing of hands and criticism across the blogosphere and in news print about the Beijing 2008 Olympics being a facade. So let me get right to the point here and state that in my opinion these Olympic Games, as is any Olympiad, were a huge success in all the important ways.

Is China a repressive communist nation that subjugates more than enhances the lives of its people? Yes.

Does the Chinese government commit human rights atrocities in order to remain in power? Absolutely.

Did the Chinese Olympic organizers commit a few slights of hand in order to make Beijing and the Olympic venues and ceremonies look better for the TV cameras than they actually were in person? Sure.

But it remains that the International Olympic Committee selected China for these games knowing that these things were and would be facts. They made the selection just as they made the choices of Los Angeles in 1984, Moscow in 1980, Berlin in 1938, and many other places around the world that have been controversial locations for some nations and political systems.

We would like every nation in the world to be democratic, to grant freedom to their people, to open their societies to interact fully with the world. But the fact is that is not reality. China has been a nation and a people for more than 6,000 years. The American experience of 232 years pales in comparison.

And though much of the world would like to see reform in the Chinese political system at least to the point of a little more tolerance of varied viewpoints, the answer is not to attack them or isolate them. The answer is to engage the Chinese in any positive way possible, with the hope that exposure over time to the free world will inspire change from within China.

These Olympics undoubtedly were a positive step in that regard. A generation of young Chinese have been strongly exposed to the outside world in these past few years, and especially these last two weeks. They will carry this cultural experience with them for decades, and it will affect the way they view the rest of the world.

I am no Pollyanna, and do not expect the Chinese dragon to change its stripes overnight, or perhaps even in my lifetime. But neither do I intend to give up on the possibility of a profound change in the Chinese people, and ultimately in their government, no matter that the powers-that-be will return to repression now that the spotlight has lifted.

The Olympic Charter itself states that its purpose is as follows:

“to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.” 

These Olympics showcased all these aspects, from the victorious joy of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, the new “World’s Fastest Human”, the professional pride of American basketballer Kobe Bryant, China’s excellent women’s gymnast Kexin He, the dominating brilliance of American swimmer Michael Phelps, and so many others.

Despite the Russian-Georgian conflict at the opening of the Games, and the looming American political conventions and election battles, these Olympics gave us many reasons to continue to cheer the human spirit. And after all, that is the point of their existence.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics theme was ‘One World, One Dream”, and it says here that despite numerous differences of politics, religion, and culture the dream is still alive. A dream that, for the most part, we can find a way as humanity to co-exist and compete on friendly terms. It is a bit idyllic, but it is a dream that must not be allowed to die.

Golden American beauties

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Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor compete at the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics

 

The United States of America team currently competing in Beijing, China at the XXIX Olympiad has given much attention to its men.

Michael Phelps is a swimming machine who is about to break every Olympic swim record ever held, currently having won 6 gold medals while setting records each time.

The men’s basketball team is an NBA star-studded bunch led by Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James and others, and it is on a mission to not stub its toe the way U.S. men’s basketball squads of the recent past have done.

But it is the exploits, and frankly the good looks, of a trio of U.S. women that has captured this sports fans attention.

Darra Torres is an American swimmer who has already won a silver medal in these games as a member of the Women’s 400m Freestyle Relay squad. A silver medalist on a relay team. What’s the big deal, you may say?

Well, Darra Torres is also the 41-year old mother of a two year old little girl. That’s right, 41-years old. The relay silver was her 10th Olympic medal won during her career, the first of which she won at the Los Angeles games…in 1984! Two years earlier, at age 14, she had set her first world record.

Now over two decades later, she continues to win medals, and is the favorite this weekend in a 50m sprint freestyle race. Darra is just five years younger than me, and let me tell you that my bones are already creaking and my muscles popping just getting up in the morning.

But Darra Torres is not your typical 41-year old. The woman has one of the most incredible, sexy physiques that you are ever going to see on a woman of any age. She is in better shape than most athletes two decades younger. The odds are that you are seeing her at her final Olympiad, so if you haven’t caught her act, look her up this weekend.

Meanwhile in the sand of the Women’s Beach Volleyball contests, perhaps the most unbeatable American women in this entire Olympiad are competing for the gold this weekend as well, and looking good while doing it. Kerry Walsh and Misty May-Treanor are a dynamic ‘Mutt-n-Jeff’ team that lays waste to their competition the higher that competition level gets.

They were pushed yesterday by a suddenly strong Norwegian pair, and were down set-point a handful of times in the first set. But Walsh/May-Treanor never let up, and the golden gals pulled out a 24-22 victory. They went on to stomp the Norwegian gals in the second set to advance on towards the medal round.

That win helped make Walsh’s 30th birthday a happy affair. Kerry Walsh, the tall, slender blond of the pair, began her Olympic career back in 2000 at Sydney as a member of the USA women’s indoor team that finished in 4th place.

For the 2004 games she moved outdoors to the beach with the then-Misty May, and the duo swept to the gold medal in Athens without losing a set, becoming the first American females to win the event.

The pair entered these 2008 Olympics on a 101-match win streak, having won 18 straight tournaments. They are the favorites in Beijing and the defending world champions.

Misty May-Treanor, the shorter, athletic, fireplug of the team has been called arguably the greatest female beach volleyballer of all-time, having won 102 beach volleyball titles in her career, the most by anyone ever.

Her father was an Olympic volleyball team member in 1968, her mom played tennis at UCLA, and her cousin Taylor Dent was a pro tennis player and a member of the Athens US Olympic team, so Misty May comes to her athleticism through genealogy as well as hard work. All that, and she married Florida Marlins backup catcher Mark Treanor as well.

Some feminazis would blanch at references to the sexuality and attractiveness of women athletes like Torres, Walsh, and May-Treanor, but I could care less about their opinion of my opinions.

Like the vast majority of American males, while I appreciate strong athletic performances from all of our fellow country-persons, a woman’s physical attractiveness elevates the interest in her.

Darra Torres, Kerry Walsh, and Misty May-Treanor should elicit a great deal of such interest this coming weekend. This is one red-blooded American male who will be rooting hard for these three American beauties to bring home the gold, and look good while doing it.