Your multi-tasking Prude here, with Olympic commentary written while watching coverage on 4 separate channels, knitting, pulling weeds, folding laundry, and scrubbing the tub. Can you say hexathlete?
They say this is the year of the woman athlete. I say it is the year of the aging athlete.
There’s that Japanese equestrian who is 71. Biologically he is old enough to be my father.
The equestrian world is full of folks who have reached the sensible age of getting glory by giving commands to an underling while sitting pretty in exquisite duds.
An Olympic archer is 46, a shooter is 61, and a Bulgarian gymnast–bless his heart– is 39. This gymnast, who describes his body as ‘falling apart’, competes because it provides his trainer and masseuse with employment for a bit longer. That is what happens when one is on the cusp of middle age. The realization that others are looking to you for their livelihood hits like a ton of bricks and with the responsibility comes the fear that you will never be able to retire.
When I was barely in my teens the summer Olympics inspired me to run and jump and push myself so I could someday be an Olympian. I trained like crazy and disciplined myself for the ENTIRE TWO WEEKS of the Munich Olympics between prime-time coverage. The Olympic dream went on hiatus for the next several years while I pursued my dream of being David Cassidy’s girlfriend, my dream of being a college graduate and my dream of surviving motherhood.
The dreams, while increasing in realistic expectations, decreased in glory. As I add fiber to my diet and crow’s feet to my age spots, my dreams of Olympic glory are dim as my close-range vision.
But this year?
This year I dream again.
I see the gray-haired athletes.
I hear their joints creak.
I empathize when security tries to direct them to the grandparents’ section.
But when they peer at me over their reading glasses, they inspire me nevertheless.
You may not be able to run farther, swim faster or flip higher than the 20-year-olds, they seem to say. But Olympic glory is not only for the young.
If you need me I’ll be in the back yard, brushing up on my archery skills.