Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again?

Been following the Olympics? Of course you have. You can’t avoid it. You turn on the radio, log on to the internet or watch the nightly news, and you hear something about the gazillion dollar competition in Beijing, from the aesthetically pleasing nine year old girl lip syncing the theme song to the Greco-Roman wrestler who lost his bronze medal due to poor sportmanship.

And you’d have to have been living under a rock for the last couple of weeks if you don’t recognize the name of Michael Phelps, who now holds the records for most gold medals ever won in a single Olympics.

That record had been held by Mark Spitz, who won seven gold medals in 1972 Munich Olympics.

I was 16 during the ‘72 Olympics and although I was not much for athletics, I went nuts for Mark Spitz. I watched every one of his races and even went out and bought the famous poster you see here of Mr. Spitz, wearing little more than his medals and a smile. If ever a man could fill out a Speedo, it was that guy.

Hey, what happened to the Speedo suits anyway? The suits the swimmers wear now remind me of the tight leggings I used to wear to my aerobics class. I hear those things are supposed to give the swimmers an extra edge, but they look kind of silly.

I didn’t watch the swimming races this time. I guess I didn’t want to be reminded that it’s been 36 years since I was so captivated by an Olympic athlete. Or perhaps I remember the terrible events that happened soon after Spitz won that seventh gold medal, when the Israeli athletes were taken hostage and later killed by Palestinian terrorists. I can still hear the late Jim McKay saying "They’re all gone," and crying for all those fine young men lost.

We’ve learned a lot since 1972. I’m sure with the whole world watching, the Chinese have the right security measures in place to prevent another terrorist attack like the one in Munich. But maybe it helps that I haven’t watched the swimming competition like I did in 1972. You never know.

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