Inspiring a Generation: Reflections on London 2012

I’m usually not a big TV watcher. There was a point in my life when I had a repertoire of 15 shows that I religiously watched, but being in college has dwindled the list to two (Modern Family and Parks and Recreation). But for the last two weeks, my TV has been on 24/7, constantly streaming all the action that’s going down in London. It happens every time the Olympics are on–it’s like my world stops and the only thing I care about is staying up to date on everything going on in Olympic village. Inevitably, all the coverage messes up my sleep schedule. I thought primetime was supposed to be over by 10, but night after night I find myself struggling to stay awake to see results of events I didn’t even know I cared about. Needless to say, I’m addicted.

As much as I love watching the events themselves, my favorite parts of the Olympics are the opening and closing ceremonies. Witnessing 200 countries come together under one roof, all united by a single event, always seems to moves me to tears. I just think it’s so amazing that for two weeks, we are able to put aside our differences as nations, and the only thing that matters is celebrating each others athletic excellence.

The last 16 days have been filled with so many great moments. Like when beach volleyball’s golden girls Misty and Kerri captivated the world in the neck-and-neck gold medal match, only to pound away the points when it mattered most. Or when Grenada’s Kirami James made the ultimate gesture of respect when he traded bibs with Oscar Pistorius upon completion of the barrier breaking 400m semifinal. Or when the living legend Michael Phelps was moved to tears after helping win the 400 medley relay in his last Olympic swim, marking the end of an era that will be remembered forever. These moments fill us with a sense of pride in our country, renew our faith on humanity, and remind us how lucky we are to be experiencing history in the making.

I think I know why we’re so invested in the Games, why we take the time to get to know the athletes and cheer for them like they are our closest friends. These people represent our wildest hopes and dreams, proving to us that had work really can get us to where we want to be. They embody everything that we admire: dedicate, commitment, teamwork, gumption. They are every person who has ever had a goal–athletic or otherwise–and gone for it. And for two weeks every two years, we are able to witness these champions in action, moving us to work towards achieving a dream of our own.

I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do after the closing ceremonies air tonight. I guess it will be nice not to have my social life revolve around being in front of the TV all day and night, but I still have an unreasonable amount of sadness over the idea of it being over. The good news is that in two weeks, I’ll be able to experience it all again when the Paralympics commence in London. Although the media coverage won’t be the same as it was for the Olympics, I still plan to stream it all on my computer, and use the momentum and excitement to carry me through the rest of the season. And this year, I’ll be watching the Paralympians with a new eye, knowing that in four years I will (hopefully) be walking among them.

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