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‘Twas the Night before the Olympics

The London Games  will start in 5 hours and 32 minutes.

In China, the games will be televised live at 4am.

Since we have time before the opening ceremony, let’s take a little walk down memory lane…

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I was probably crawling around the tv during the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

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Since America didn’t attend the 1980 Olympics in Moscow, I doubt I watched any of it. Back in those days, if it didn’t come through “rabbit ears” then it wasn’t available.

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I remember watching Mary Lou Retton vault her way to Olympic gold. I remember her haircut & the way her coach, Béla Károlyi hugged her at the end of her routine. Though my Mom didn’t buy Wheaties, I remember that she had her picture on a Wheaties box.

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I watched Florence Griffith Joyner run faster than I knew possible.  And I felt so bad for Greg Louganis when he accidentally hit his head on the spring board.

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I remember the torch was lit by an arrow (at least it appeared to be that way on television). I had big hopes for gymnast Shannon Miller. The “Dream Team” won gold in basketball since professional athletes were now allowed to compete in the Olympics. In tennis, Jennifer Capriati beat out Steffi Graf for the gold.

Screen Shot 2012-07-27 at 11.21.21 PMMuhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch. Kerri Strug vaulted with an injured ankle and landed on one foot. The “Magnificent 7” won gold. Shannon Miller won the gold medal on the balance beam event. Michael Johnson became the “world’s fastest man” and Carl Lewis completed his 4th Olympics winning gold in the long jump.

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These games were held in Septmeber (what? southern hemisphere!) so I didn’t watch much as I was starting grad school. I remember that the women’s vault was 5cm too low and all of the gymnast had challenges.

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I remember that someone actually had a “greek wedding” during the opening ceremony. Liu Xiang won a surprising gold medal in the hurdles. The “Dream Team” lost for the first time in Olympic men’s basketball since NBA players were permitted to play in the Games. Michale Phelps took home 8 medals. Gymnast Carly Patterson became only the second American woman to win the all-around gold medal. (The first was Mary Lou Rhetton.)

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Where do I start?!? We lived here and the entire country had Olympic Fever unlike I have ever know. The torch came to Yichang! The Fu Wa were all over town. There was even an Olympic Countdown in the city square. We had the unique chance to go to Beijing before the games began and I have to say that is was one of the cleanest, most landscaped urban centers I’ve ever seen. I will always remember where I watched the opening ceremony at 8pm 08.08.08.

There’s so much I remember about the ceremony: the drums, the scroll, the chops, the tai chi, Li Ning suspended by wires running through the roof of the stadium to light the torch, etc.

I remember Michael Phelps winning so much gold. Lu Xiu suddenly didn’t compete. And the Chinese gymnasts appeared to be quite young.  That year, China kept 51 of those gold medals while the US only had 36. On the flip side, the US came home with 110 total medals while China kept 100 total medals.

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Tomorrow, I get to introduce Schäfer to his second Olympics. Sianna and Selah get to watch their first. We won’t be waking the kids at 4am to watch television. Thankfully, in the modern age, we’ll be able to see most of it via the internet.

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