Thursday, July 26, 2012

U-S-A! U-S-A!

I LOVE the Olympics. I am particularly partial to track and field (shocking) and women's gymnastics, but I love watching all of the sports. When I first moved to Michigan my (now) husband and I bonded over the Olympics. Of course they were the winter Olympics which I think is just a good fix to get you through to the real Olympics, the summer ones. But any way you slice it, I love the Olympics.

I think there is also a direct correlation between place and the Olympic host cities. Look at some of the cities who have hosted the (summer) Olympics in the last few decades: Beijing, Athens, Sydney, Atlanta, Barcelona, Seoul, Los Angeles.  These are all cosmopolitan, thriving places.  And this year the Olympics are in London, one of the best cities in the world.


In 2008 Fast Company magazine named its global city of the year. About this city it said: "It's shockingly expensive. The roads are jammed with traffic. The subway system's hopeless, and the buses no better. There's a surveillance camera on every other corner, and the sidewalks are strewn with litter. The biggest airport is a joke. The richest residents are fleeing or threatening to; the poorest have been chased out into the suburbs by soaring property prices. And the weather sucks."

That city? London. The article goes on to praise London's creative resurgence in art, music and diversity. This summer, as people from all over the world descend on Great Britain's capital, the city will be polished and shiny for the visitors. And people will see what they've seen in Olympic cities for decades: places they love, places they want to return to, places they fantasize about living in. 


As a runner and a city lover, I'm fascinated by the Olympic venues and the marriage of the world's greatest athletes with the world's greatest cities. I have set my DVR to record all of the track and field events. I'm cheering for our incredible American runners in every heat they run. I am particularly excited to watch the women's marathon with three of the best marathoners in the world representing our country.

Desiree Davila, Shalane Flannagan and Kara Goucher - the U.S. Women's Marathoners. Awesome.
For me the Olympics mark a time of such profound patriotism that I spend a lot of it with my heart in my throat, holding my breath, watching the athletes.  It's also a time to appreciate a world-class city hosting a monumental event that will forever change that city's place in history.  I wish all the athletes good luck, but of course I'm cheering for the Americans. And London? London is about to show other cities how it's done.   

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