Eileen Cook (Unpredictable, What Would Emma Do? YA and Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood YA) — born, raised, and schooled in Michigan and Indiana — moved to Vancouver in 1994 with her “devoted husband.” Both love the city and, during the past few years, this author has mentioned the Winter Olympics of 2010 more than a few times in her blog posts.
Now that the Games have begun in beautiful Vancouver, Eileen shares her pride and joy in the Olympic experience.
The party has been in the planning stages for a long time. The initial bid to host the games started in 1998. In July 2003 it was official, the Olympics would be here in Vancouver. There have been debates on plans, years of construction, and more than a few curses over delays, costs and traffic. Then there has been the weather issue; we’re having the warmest February in 100 years. Figures.
All that melts away (along with too much snow) when you go into the city. Strangers talk to strangers on the street. There are free concerts, art installations, and many of the countries are hosting parties in various pavilions. I walked the streets on Sunday and passed a group visiting military soldiers, a couple from China, two Russian athletes sightseeing before their event, a Muslim woman with her headscarf decorated with Olympic pins, Americans, Swedes, and everyone else you can imagine. Canadians, normally rather quiet with their patriotism are waving flags, painting their faces, and wearing every sort of Canadian gear they can get their hands on. There is an energy that is difficult to describe. The city is electrified. The torch set everyone on fire.
What’s the appeal of the Olympics? I’m not a sporty person. I tend to fall over while walking on flat ground so I don’t do too many activities that involve speed, ice, or objects hurled at a high rate of speed. I don’t even understand the rules of many of the Olympic sports. Curling? Near as I can tell it’s bowling with ice, rocks and brooms. I have tickets to one of the matches so I’ll let you know if I figure out any more than that. Then there is the biathlon. Who exactly thought skiing and shooting made a good combination? What’s next hockey combined with archery? Snowboarding with spears?
I believe we enjoy watching the games because there is something compelling about the effort. Years of training that come down to a one hundredth of a second difference between winning and losing. We want to see someone win so we can share, even from our sofa, that soaring feeling of achievement. For those that don’t win, we want to see them pull themselves back up and show they may have lost, but they aren’t beaten. We want to see someone reach his or her personal best or have a moment of absolute perfection.
We experience the Olympics, because it reminds us that even though we may never win a gold medal, we do have the opportunity to do our best in our own lives. We’re reminded to work a bit harder, to push ourselves a bit further, to do a bit better than we imagined we could. The Olympics make us wonder, “What could I achieve; how high can I soar?”
Look for me on your TV coverage. I’ll be the one jumping up and down cheering the athletes and you on. Go on. Do your best. Believe in the power of yourself. There’s a gold out there just waiting for you.
Photos courtesy of Eileen Cook