Who doesn’t tingle with Olympic pride? Just the thought that the world’s most amazing athletes are gathered in London for the start of the Games makes me smile. I’m an American, and a Canadian, and a Norwegian, and a German, and a Russian, and more. I don’t really care who wins, I’m not for any person or team, I simply respect and admire an event that has withstood the real ravages of time. The first Olympics is dated at 776 B.C. Now that’s a humbling number.
From Reuters on Rwanda’s mountain biking sensation Adrien Niyonshuti: Adrien Niyonshuti’s memories of Rwanda’s genocide are hazy, but when he needs to shut off his mind and forget the slaughter that killed six of his brothers he jumps on his bike.
The small-framed 25-year-old is readying to become the east African country’s first Olympic mountain biker, (a course that might not be completed on time) honoured with carrying the national flag at the opening ceremony of the London Games.
“When I ride my bike, there’s no one who can stop me or ask me anything so things are really good,” Niyonshuti told Reuters in the Rwandan capital, Kigali. “Riding gives me an opportunity to help forget the things that happened in 1994.”
Training for the Olympics six days a week has been gruelling, the devout Muslim says, especially during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when he fasts during daylight hours.
“The big event for me now is the Olympics, it’s great for me and for my country because it’s the first time we qualified for mountain biking.”
But for now Niyonshuti is focusing on the Olympics and making his family proud. He has been swamped with messages of support that have helped drive him towards the finish line and dreams of a medal.
“To have everyone say they are behind me makes me feel good. When people congratulate me for getting to the Olympics, it gives me a confidence and it tells me that yeah, I did well.
American freestyle swimmer Janet Evans. From CNN on Janet Evans:”This is the hardest part,” she says as she stares into the blue light reflected up out of the pool and prepares to plunge into another day of exhausting training. By day’s end, Evans will have logged up to 10 miles in the pool and 45 minutes of intense training in the weight room.
Her goal seems an impossible dream, an Olympic comeback after 15 years in retirement. She will compete in U.S. Olympic Trials in the 800-meter freestyle next week. (update: Evans finished 53rd out of 65 swimmers in the 800-meter freestyle preliminaries at the U.S. trials on Saturday. Evans walked away smiling, buoyed by the cheers from a sellout crowd and shouts of ‘Go Janet!’ “I’m just proud of the courage it took.”
At 40, Evans still retains the effervescent smile that warmed the nation’s heart so long ago. Gone is the pixie haircut. It’s been replaced with a more sophisticated shoulder-length style more fitting a busy post-retirement career as a wife, a mother of two, an Olympics booster and a motivational speaker.
Evans says those experiences, especially motherhood, have given her a more grounded perspective than she ever had at 17.
It was two years ago that Evans started thinking about a comeback. She was attending a swim meet and realized that the winning times hadn’t really improved much in the 15 years since her retirement.
” ‘You’ve had your time.’ I’ve heard that a lot,” says Evans. “For me, it’s a question of confidence and knowing that my legacy will be intact. (It’s) being proud of the fact that at 40, I can come back and actually swim with 17-year-olds and keep up.”
“Well, if I swim fast enough,” laughs Evans, “Who says it’s not my time?”
Here’s hoping for medals for Janet Evans, Adrien Niyonshuti, and for all the amazing athletes from every corner of the planet. From Wikipedia: Approximately 4,700 Olympic and Paralympic medals have been produced by the Royal Mint. They were designed by David Watkins (Olympics) and Lin Cheung (Paralympics). Each medal weighs 375–400g, has a diameter of 85mm and is 7mm thick, with the sport and discipline engraved on the rim. The obverse, as is traditional, features Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, stepping from the Parthenon; the reverse features the Games logo, the River Thames and a series of lines representing “the energy of athletes and a sense of pulling together.” The medals were transferred to the Tower of London vaults on 2 July 2012 for storage.
Yes, it’s Olympics Everything, and that makes me smile. Especially this from the Financial Times:
And last but never least, food stats from the 2012 Olympics from About.com:
Food at London 2012 – the Challenge
- 31 competition venues
- 955 competition sessions
- 160,000 workforce
- 23,900 athletes and team officials
- 20,600 broadcasters and press
- 4,800 Olympic and Paralympic Family
- 9 million ticket sales
- 14 million meals
Food Quantities Needed in the London Olympic Village 2012:
- 25,000 loaves of bread
- 232 tonnes of potatoes
- More than 82 tonnes of seafood
- 31 tonnes of poultry items
- More than 100 tonnes of meat
- 75,000 litres of milk
- 19 tonnes of eggs
- 21 tonnes of cheese
- More than 330 tonnes of fruit and vegetables
The Boulevardiers applaud all of the athletes
honoring their countries and their fellow citizens!