Going for Gold | Olympic Moments

July 10, 2008 | 13 comments
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Mormon Times posted a list of LDS athletes who are headed to the Summer Olympics. An impressive group — I hope they all make their respective teams and countries proud in coming weeks.

So what are some of the Olympic moments that you remember seeing or attending? I’m sure there are some true sports fans out there who have dozens of memories, but here are two of mine.

  • Keri Strug’s final vault at the 1996 Games. It was the gutsiest performance I ever saw. The US Women’s gymnastics team was on the verge of their first-ever all-around gold, but in their final event the gymnast preceding Strug had two poor vaults. Strug, the last American competitor, landed very poorly on her first attempt, visibly injuring an ankle in the process. Nevertheless, she limped back to the runway, took her second vault, and nailed it for a 9.712. She landed it on one foot, saluted the judges, hopped around to salute the crowd, then collapsed. Incredible.
  • Sting and Yo-Yo Ma on the ice at the 2002 Games. We were all holding our breath that the 2002 Games in Utah wouldn’t become some sort of Mormon fiasco — especially given the early financial scandal that threatened to tarnish the whole event. But Mitt Romney stepped up to the plate, fixed the mess, and the Games were a success and a proud moment for Utah. When I saw Sting and Ma performing at the opening ceremonies was when I knew it wouldn’t be a screw-up.

Despite the hype and the politics, there is still nothing on earth to match the Olympics and nothing as memorable as a true Olympic moment. Godspeed to all the athletes making their way to Beijing. Swifter, higher, stronger.

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13 Responses to Going for Gold | Olympic Moments

  1. Ray on July 10, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    I saw the last half of the Miracle on Ice game live – on TV, not in person. “Electric” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Words can’t begin to describe it.

  2. Ardis Parshall on July 10, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    Mark Spitz in ’72. He just kept winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning and winning like nobody had ever done before, and every gold medal also set a speed record. Even those of us who weren’t particularly fans of swimming and couldn’t tell one stroke from another couldn’t take our eyes away — you just had to watch to see whether he could do it yet again. He did, and you screamed and cheered yourself hoarse over and over.

  3. Cliff on July 10, 2008 at 11:30 pm

    Sadly, one of my strongest Olympic memories was, as a teenager, falling asleep while watching the \’96 Atlanta games and being woken up by coverage of the bombing at Olympic Park.

  4. Karen on July 11, 2008 at 12:05 am

    My husband, who went to university on a track scholarship watches all of the olympic track and field events so the women’s first olympic marathon was on our tv as I walked by in 1984. I watched in horror as Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss entered the stadium fifteen minutes after the winners. She suffered from heat exhaustion. She looked a mess, twisted and staggering, but she finished and recovered. I, sedentary bookworm that I was, began to surreptiously watch women’s marathons. I ran my first marathon in 1997 and my mantra the last 6 miles was, “I’m not yet as bad as Gabriele and she finished, so I can finish too.” I’m training for #18 now.

  5. Bored in Vernal on July 11, 2008 at 1:17 am

    Olga Korbut on the uneven bars (that year we named our turtles after her and Mark Spitz)

  6. Sean on July 11, 2008 at 1:30 am

    Mary Lou Retton winning the gymnastics gold in 1984. I had a crush on Simona Pauca, a Romanian who won the bronze, but was happy when Mary Lou won the gold.

  7. Michelle Glauser on July 11, 2008 at 2:38 am

    My great uncle is 94, and while he was on his mission in Germany and Switzerland, he and his companion went to the Olympics (yeah, rules then were a lot more lax), but not just any Olympics. He personally saw Hitler and the whole deal with Jesse Owens. I can’t even imagine.

  8. Last Lemming on July 11, 2008 at 10:06 am

    Keri Strug’s Americanness has overshadowed an even more remarkable performance by Japan’s Shun Fujimoto in 1976. He contested two events with a broken leg and his team went on to win the closest Olympic gymnastics competition up to that point (and maybe beyond–I don’t know).

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/events/1996/olympics/daily/july22/flashback.html

  9. Mark B. on July 11, 2008 at 11:21 am

    Re: #4.

    I really hope that her name is Gabriela Andersen-Schiess. (Just googled it–it is.)

    Believe me, nobody from a German-speaking country would want the surname Scheiss.

  10. Seth R. on July 11, 2008 at 11:28 am

    One of my strongest memories comes from when I was volunteering for the Salt Lake Olympics at Soldier Hollow (the cross country skiing venue). I was helping monitor the crowds (kind of an usher function) on the little-frequented outskirts of the race course and saw one of the Japanese female racers collapse mid-race with an injured ankle, aided by a nearby race judge.

    I ran and got the paramedics at a nearby aid station and then was able to provide translation services for them (having served a mission in Japan). I remember the paramedics were a little excited to be seeing some action (I can hardly blame them) and were starting to go a little overboard on the intake questions. I suggested that they might take down her race number and get a lot of that information later – “since it is the Olympics after all, and she just lost her shot at it, and is pretty busted-up.” They quickly agreed, and drove her back via snowmobile. Both paramedics remarked how having a translator made a huge difference in doing their job right.

    And yes, I am ridiculously proud of my small “Olympic moment.” But what are we here for, if not to enjoy our small moments?

  11. Raymond Takashi Swenson on July 11, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    By the time of the Olympics in Salt Lake I had moved twice, to Washington and then Idaho, so was unable to participate as a volunteer in the way Seth did, though I wore my “I speak Japanese” impromptu interpreter pin whenever I was in town. There have been a number of other times when my parents and I had used our ability to speak Japanese to help out visitors to Salt Lake.

    Is there any kind of compilation of such personal Olympic moments somewhere on the Internet that attests to the value of the many thousands of local people who volunteered in support of that effort, especially that highlight that the community is one that is at home in a milieu of real talent (athletic and musical and organizational) and international and intercultural relationships? (For example, I remember reading that Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee President, was surprised at how many people he ran into who spoke Dutch, which is not spoken much outside the Netherlands, Belgium, and Indonesia.)

    The Olympics demonstrated this, and we should not let the world, nor ourselves, forget it, in the face of the constant criticisms and attacks leveled at Utahns and Mormons about being unintelligent, uneducated racist yokels who don’t deserve respect as Christians or as full citizens of America or the world.

  12. Seth R. on July 11, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    In some ways, Utah is actually surprisingly cosmopolitan.

  13. Jacob J on July 12, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    I love the Olympics. I remember vividly when Tony Hawk landed the first 900. Also I remember Greg Louganis hitting his head in the 88 Olympics.