Memories are made and stars are born at the Olympics, and even someone who’s been a star since birth can shine bright enough to leave a lasting impression. The Queen of England proved that recently when she officially became a Bond Girl with her dramatic entrance at the opening ceremony of the London Summer Olympic Games, joining the excited spectators in the coliseum. The Queen herself, however, didn’t look all that excited.
“She looks mad,” my 11-year-old son said when the cameras showed her without a smile in the audience several times.
“Give her a break, Sam,” my nine-year-old daughter replied. “She’s old and she just jumped out of a plane, didn’t she?”
While the Queen’s acting debut will stand out as a highlight for me, I know there will be many more to enjoy as well.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is always on full display when the world comes together to present the best of the best. My first memory of falling in love with the spectacular event was back in 1976 when I first laid eyes on a 14-year-old girl named Nadia Comaneci.
I remember being in the living room of my house, sitting cross-legged on the floor, watching our old black and white TV after my mom had called me in to see the women’s gymnastics. I was immediately amazed, not just at their beauty and skill, but at their pint-sized proportions. Some of them – Nadia in particular – didn’t look much older than me.
I hadn’t seen or heard of her before, but I would soon never forget her when she became the first gymnast to score a perfect ten and instantly became an international superstar. For years my friends and I would pretend to be Nadia, re-enacting her sheer brilliance in our imaginations.
I was nine years old at the time – the same age my daughter Daisy is now. A budding tumbler herself, it’s not surprising that her favourite competitions to watch are the gymnastics, even with the men and their “gross hairy armpits.”
“Seriously,” she said covering her eyes more than once when different athletes reached for the rings. “That is not attractive!”
Yet soon enough they wowed her with their power and precision and she’d just sit in awe with the rest of us.
What’s breathtaking about all of the Olympic athletes that manage to make it to this level of greatness is what we will never see: their grueling journeys in getting there. Whether they’ve come from the ghetto or royalty, their passion, perseverance and unwavering will to win is inspiring and motivating to Olympian hopefuls, as well as to the millions of people like me.
“As simple as it sounds,” Mary Lou Retton, another Olympic superstar once said, “We all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we’ve been given.”
I have no doubts that Queen Elizabeth, and my daughter Daisy Elizabeth, would agree.
More columns, blogs, cartoons and videos can be found at LoriWelbourne.com