Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Winner takes all

I remember one night long ago (in 1996), in a home far, far away, watching the T.V. mesmerized by Kerri Strug and her Olympic gymnast fortitude.

Seeing her on the vault, doing her first pass, hurting her ankle and hobbling off the mat I thought “all of that for nothing- all of that hard work and she’s done.” If it would have been me, I feel like there would have been howling, dramatic gestures and some sort of standing-ovation exit.

Instead, the whole world, including me in my play room, watched as she cried, grimaced and then returned to her spot on the runway mat (or the technical Olympic gymnast term used), assumed her place, stuck her landing with her INJURED ankle and brought glory and honor to her country and her team.

That moment has always defined for me the kind of sacrifice it takes to be an Olympic athlete.

There are few times a girl will question whether or not she missed her calling in life- but watching Olympic gymnastics as well as Broadway shows we tend to ask ourselves “what if?”

What if my parents had sent me away to learn to flip and turn and spray my hair to my head with glitter products when I was three years old, like they keep mentioning China does with their little girls? There’s always a point when you watch a gymnast do the little dismount hands-in-the air move at the end of a difficult tumbling pass, or when you’re sitting in the mezzanine as a singer makes the tiny hairs on your stand straight up when she hits an impossibly high note– and you just have to think that maybe it could have been you.

Then you remember your childhood of jumping on trampolines and singing karaoke; not having to worry about the glitter hairspray, 4 AM wake-up calls and vocal lessons and realize you might not have had it that bad after all...

... and those girls probably would not have been able to go on a spontaneous trip to the Bahamas last weekend, like I did.

"Fortitude is the marshal of thought, the armor of the will, and the fort of reason."
-Francis Bacon

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