What I Learned From Watching the London Olympics
It has been 16 days of glorious spectacle, where some of the strongest human beings on earth were competing against each other in various sport competitions. Although the Summer Olympics 2012 in London has ended through last Sunday’s closing ceremonies — with a big fanfare that features Spice Girls, Take That and other famous British musicians, no less — I find that there are a number of things that can be learned from this year’s sporting bonanza.
Perseverance Is Important, No Matter You Win or Lose
Liu Xiang is a Chinese hurdler who won a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics, but in this year’s 110-meter men’s hurdles race, something bad happened to him. He stumbled on the first hurdle and the Achilles tendon injury that he had been struggling with for years relapsed. After having a hard time getting up from the ground, he hopped toward the track side, but then he turned back and, with cheers from all corners of the stadium, tried his best to finish the race by relying on his one good foot. Liu might not snatch a gold medal for his country, but his perseverance to pass the finish line despite his condition is inspiring.
Cheating Will Get You Nowhere
The London Olympics has faced a number of controversies, including when eight badminton players were disqualified for attempting to lose in order to meet easier opponents later in the tournament. These players are four pairs that played in the women’s doubles from China, South Korea, as well as Indonesia — Meiliana Jauhari and Greysia Polii. In the wake of this scandal, the Chinese player Yu Yang decided to quit badminton altogether, stating in her micro blog, “… goodbye my beloved badminton.” Thanks to cheating, instead of glory, all they got out of Olympics was disgrace.
More Opportunity for Women Is a Great Progress
It was the first time that Saudi Arabia sent their female athletes to the Olympics: Sarah Attar, a runner, and Wojdan Shaherkani, who competed in judo. Although the media in the country ignored their historic participation — there was even a horrible campaign on Twitter calling them “prostitutes of the Olympics” — the fact that Saudi Arabia’s national Olympic committee started giving their female athletes opportunity to compete at the international level can be seen as a sign of advancement.
Sports Recognize No Conflict
The United States and Iran might have tense relations over the years, but this photo posted by American wrestler Jordan Burroughs on his Twitter feed shows the opposite. The picture depicts Burroughs hugging his Iranian opponent Sadegh Goudarzsi after getting a medal in a freestyle wrestling match. The tweet reads: “Who’s [sic] says Iran and America don’t get along? Maybe I should be president!”. It goes to show how the Olympics can truly promote one of its values: Friendship.
The Internet Is a Viral Machine
Everything that is going on at the London Olympics is dissected by anyone on the Internet, from those who are writing for online media outlets like BuzzFeed (a headline example: “The 25 Most Absurd Moments of the Olympic Closing Ceremonies”) to athletes posting on their Twitter and Instagram, such as British diver Tom Daley and American swimmer Nathan Adrian. Even on Tumblr, many users created fan-page for their favorite athletes. The London Olympics has become a great showcase on how the Internet has the capability of making the fever surrounding the event more intense. Not to mention, the prevalence of social media these days easily makes any Olympics-related news viral 24/7.
And… Everyone Admires the Sight of Athletic Bodies
Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and McKayla Maroney. It seems a lot of people admire — and well, are smitten by — all these athletic Olympians who competed in London. Some of them have even graced the cover of notable magazines: American swimmer Ryan Lochte, for example, appeared on Vogue’s cover along with Hope Solo and Serena Williams this past June. At the risk of sounding objectifying, their strong, muscled bodies serve as an inspiration for the spectators who watched comfortably from their couch. As Heather Havrilesky writes in an essay on New York Times Magazine, “If the ’70s and ’80s were marked by a heightened appreciation for hedonism, then the ’00s and ’10s have cultivated our fascination with masochism.” Probably that is why we were keen to watch the Olympics and cheer on our favorite athletes, who have trained very hard since they were little to be able to stand on the podium. At the same time, we might also foster a hidden desire to have a Zeus-like Olympian body ourselves.
Now, what is your own takeaway from the London Olympics? Share them in the comment box below.