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My Olympics

August 8, 2012
Wetzel Chronicle

What is that one Olympic moment that lives in your memory? There are many great ones, but I believe everyone has one that really stands out.

For me, as I'm sure it is for many others --particularly those in my age demographic and from West Virginia--it is when a little girl named Mary Lou Retton earned a perfect 10 on the vault and won the all-around gold medal in the 1984 Summer Olympics held in Los Angeles.

I would have been 12 at the time. (Yep, do the math, I had a milestone birthday this year.) At that age I was still young and very impressionable. I still spent countless hours outside doing tricks on my swing set. I was still doing cartwheels whenever I could. (Yes, I'm still known to do one from time to time--though I'm sure it's not a pretty sight.) I was still young enough to dream of being in the Olympics, even though in reality I?would have had to have begun my training about eight years earlier.

After Mary Lou stood on that medals podium, I was sure I could do those same things. I know that summer I surely gave my neighbors anxiety by always standing on the raised curb in front of our house where I could do my balance beam routine. It consisted of such amazing feats as dripping one foot at a time off of the side and maybe, just maybe, successfully turning around on one foot. Yep, definitely Olympic material.

All of West Virginia was buzzing with the energy and pride over the fact that one of our own was in the international spotlight. She was on a Wheaties box! In fact, she still is. Whenever I buy the Wheaties with her on the front, I always tell my daughter that she's the gymnast from?West Virginia. She's the one whose leotard we eat dinner beside at Muriale's in Fairmont. At first Joellen was impressed with this tidbit, but by now I think she has tired of the Mountaineer trivia.

My love of Mary Lou Retton at age 12 was further fueled by my dad's willingness to go to Fairmont for her "coming home" parade. I?can still remember being amazed at seeing a glimpse of her atop that convertible red sports car that was given to her. Yep, I definitely caught Olympic fever that year.

I have loved the Olympics ever since. Although nowadays I admit that the Winter Olympics are really my favorite.

This year I have enjoyed a renewed love of the gymnastics thanks to my five-year-old daughter. Even though most of the events take place after she has succumbed to sleep, she has caught the Olympic bug. She is now constantly doing her own gymnastics in our house. But her events are just a bit different than those sanctioned by the Olympic Committee.

She excels at the "fourstand" and "beeswalk", among others. She was having difficulty one night performing a task, so I tried to help her figure out how to keep her balance.

It turns out that I am terrific at the "one-footed pillow on a stool stand with a basket of play food on my head" event. Well, that might not be the exact name of that contest, but I think you get the idea. Olympics, here we come!



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