Last night I watched the now “legendary” Michael Phelps rewrite history with his record-breaking tenth and 11th gold medals. Six from 2004, and five thus far in the 2008 Olympics (with three more
As great as it was to watch Phelps last night, another big story was in the women’s gymnastics team competition.
The Americans and Chinese were battling for the gold – and it came down to a matter of who made the most costly mistakes. As fate would have it – an American by the name of Alicia Sacromone – committed two huge errors – both of which cost her .8 of a point.
Yet, even if she had not committed these errors, the Chinese team still would have won by almost half a point.
Their true greatness showed in the floor routine when instead of looking like a gold medal hung in the balance, they relaxed and had fun. Having truly upbeat and inspiring music didn’t hurt either.
In the final analysis, when the great Bela Karolyi, who coached 13-year old Nadia Comanechi to 5-gold medals in Montreal in 1976, was interviewed, he claimed that the Chinese girls were not the required 16 years of age. He
stated that he believed them to be 14 or 15 years old.
Karolyi also stated that the Chinese team could cheat in regard to age because the passports are “issued by the government.” Well, who else do you suppose issues passports – the local 7-11.
Truth be told, the girls for the Chinese team may be under 16 – and if this is so, I feel it’s an injustice. At the same time I think it’s unfair to not allow someone who is 13, 14 or 15 to compete. Afterall, Karolyi must acknowledge that his claim to fame with Nadia Comanechi may never have taken place if she wasn’t 13 at the time of the 1976 Olympics.
So my opinion is as follows: Lift the ban on how old someone can be in the Olympics. Afterall, the U.S. has 41-year old Dara Torres – and Germany had a 33-year old gymnast competing.
As for Alicia Sacromone, my heart goes out to her. Yet, at the same time, I always look at things in a yin-yang sort of way. So do NOT be surprised if she redeems herself in the vault, having the time of her life as she claims Olympic gold.
In the Chinese view of things, nothing is totally black or white. For each bad thing that happens there is a corresponding good – and within each good thing, there is something tough about it.
Michael Phelps will serve as a perfect example. From now on, for the rest of his life, he will not have the privacy he once enjoyed. Tis a sacrifice he knew going into the mix – and it’s one he’s accepted. That doesn’t make it any easier, though.