Monday, July 30, 2012

Flip Side of Winning

The world spends the day flipping channels looking for the Olympic sport of choice and the team to cheer on. Millions of people around the world glued to their screens cheering on athletes who have traveled far emotionally and physically. We cheer them on as if we are there and they can hear our shouts and chants. We tear up as if they are our own children. The patriotism bonds each country with pride. We stay up late holding on to the hope for a gold as if it is our personal win. 

Late last night, my husband and I curled up in bed to watch the gymnasts find their place in the medal rounds. We gasped in awe at their ability to bend and twist on beams, flip and spin high above the mats and work the bars as our primate neighbors do with such ease and fluidity. The US team had to switch from team mentality to their own individual best to make the final two who will move on to the individual medal round. The pressure was on. They get one shot to reach the goal that they have been working day and night to reach. They've sacrificed more than we will ever sacrifice so they can reach what is untouchable for us mortals. 

The world champion, Jordyn Wieber, takes her turn on the mats. She can taste the win but just can't pull it out with minor mistakes that cost her a tenth of a point here and a tenth of a point there. Some believing the judges were a bit harsh with her scores. Her performance secured Gabby Douglas in the final all-around and left Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wiebers roommate,  a chance to make the finals. Bitter sweet. Aly performs the best floor routine of her life  landing her in the final round knocking Jordyn out of the competition. Tears begin to flow at such a devastating loss. 

The interviews following the win were a visual flip side. They position Aly in the foreground speaking to the reporting about her win. She spoke with modest excitement and disbelief. In between them in the background was Jordyn, trying to stay in control of her disappointment, wiping her tears, trying to compose herself enough to take the next interview. With every win, there is a loss. These are losses we will never truly know or understand. Losses that hurt and take a bite out of your spirit that we will never feel. What do you do with those feelings? When you are the winner, how do you celebrate without making your teammate, your friend's loss hurt more? It is really a loss for for both when you are close teammates even though you go into the competitions knowing you are competing against one another as well as together. There can only be one "best". Both girls have to have empathy and compassion for one another in completely opposite realms. 

We cheer on the US. We feel the losses in the only way we know how and celebrate the wins. We love and appreciate and honor those who have bled sweat and tears and given up so much to represent our country to be champions of the world. Tickets to an Olympic event $32+. Hotel in London $200+. The actual Gold Medal, $706 at current price. Airline ticket to London $1000. To work your whole life to make it on the Olympic team to represent your country....PRICELESS! 

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