The Olympics aren’t quite a week old, and the American sports scene is moving on. But what we can’t forget is that these Olympics officially (as all others have done traditionally) inspired a generation. As a longtime coach/brother to a 9 ½ year old sister/big cousin to a lot of littluns (including one who got to go to several events)/Olympic historian, I want to make sure this generation stays inspired. So I wrote them a letter.
To my sister, my cousins and every kid who fell in love with the Olympics this year,
Welcome to the club! It’s the coolest club in the world, one that has boys and girls in 204 countries. It really is the cool kids club, and it gets cooler all the time.
Discovering the Olympics is like discovering reading. The whole world opens up to you. But unlike some books, these are true stories that happened to real people.
And there were so many cool sports we only see every four years. There was the decathlon, team handball, water polo, synchronized diving, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline, archery, shooting. It’s pretty much the coolest summer camp that ever existed.
This year you saw a real superhero, the fastest man in the world: Usain Bolt win three gold medals for the second-straight Olympics. He lead his small island country, Jamaica, to once again have the fastest people on Earth.
You learned a new pose called the MoBot from Mo Farah, a British runner who was born in Somalia and trained in the US. And you saw his practice teammate, American Galen Rupp, help Mo win one of his two gold medals and got a silver for himself.
You saw Michael Phelps win more gold than Fort Knox (or at least more than any Olympian) and come home with more medals than anyone in the history of the Olympics. And you saw his teammate Nathan Adrian win his first gold medal, surprising even himself.
We saw Jordyn Wieber -who had been the best in the world- not be good enough to challenge for the gymnastics all-around medals because two of her teammates were better that night. And then we saw her be her teammate’s biggest cheerleader.
We saw her teammate Gabby Douglas become the first African American gymnast to win the all-around gold medal, and she did it with a constant smile on her face.
We saw the sadness of their teammate Aly Raisman, tying for third but not getting a medal. Then we saw her get a bronze on another tie and feeling bad for the girl who got fourth. And later that night, she got her own individual gold medal, and the two girls she tied with also got medals there.
There were two triathlete British brothers who each won medals. And there were two girls who are just like sisters, Keri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor, win their third beach volleyball gold medal.
Then there was the South African, Oscar Pistorius. Even though he lost both his legs at a young age, he always did everything his brother did like every normal kid. But this year he showed the world he wasn’t like every normal kid; he had a great heart and was one of the 16 fastest men in the world around the track. And then we saw Kirani James be so impressed with Oscar that he asked to trade name bibs with him. Kirani went on to win the gold medal in that event, becoming the first-ever gold medalist for his country, Grenada.
Those are just some of the many great stories from this year’s Olympics. Now the fun starts. There are 29 other Summer Olympiads to learn about, and there are so many stories in each of those. Plus in about a year and a half, you get to explore the Winter Olympics where they do all sorts of sports on snow and ice!
You now have the whole world opened up to you. Explore. Learn. Pretend to be your favorite athlete. Then go be even better. I’m right here in your corner, cheering you on.
What was your favorite memory from these Olympics?
Adults, what Olympic story would you share with kids? And what was your first Olympic memory?