Old Article that was not published-hope you like it

The 29th Olympiad just came to a close and I must say, the festivities of  the past 16 days did not disappoint.

Being part of the hosting rotation of Solar Entertainment allowed me the privilege to watch the games with a totally different perspective. I was not only following the games and its results but I was so deeply into it that I was privy to so much more than I expected.

I walked into my role as updates and recaps host knowing that each athlete is guided by the Olympic motto of “citius, altius, fortius” (faster, higher, stronger). That the games were a testament of what man can do and what mankind can achieve. Thus, the excitement I felt as I watched each day unfold was one that I have never felt before.

True enough, the experience will be one of the best ones in my life.

I will be left with visions of Michael Phelps winning those 8 gold medals on his way to breaking the long standing record of the legendary Mark Spitz. Most everyone will appreciate those 8 gold medals. What makes it remarkable though is the fact that 3 of those eight are from relay events. It wasn’t all about just one person. It was about his teammates who all rallied behind him, giving their individual best to raise “Mighty Mike” Phelps to swimming immortality.

Who will ever forget Jason Lezak saving the first team medal for Phelps, swimming the anchor leg of the 4×100 freestyle relay, edged record holder Alain Bernard of France to keep Phelp’s quest on track. It was also Lezak who secured the 8th medal as he protected the lead Phelps gave him in the 4×100 medley relay.

Without his teammates, Phelps would not have gained that victory. Ian Thorpe, Phelps’ nemesis from Australia did say that winning those 8 medals was going to be highly improbable, as there were too many variables, uncontrollable most of them. Thorpe forgot that the Olympic spirit is also about helping and teamwork. What was deemed as improbable, Phelps made doable.

The post Phelps Olympics began after he won his 8th medal on August 17. There was no other big story to follow nor an athlete to expect huge victories from. Usain Bolt, suddenly spiked up the ratings as he, just like lighting, struck out of nowhere.

Expected to win the 100 meters sprint, the Jamaican Usain Bolt lined up for the finals oozing with confidence. Some, even IOC president Jacques Rogge saw this as disrespect and too much arrogance. What happened 9.69 seconds after proved that he had all the right to beat his chest even before he crossed the finish line.

His time, as the commentator said “is in the realm of video game time” broke the 9.7 second barrier. He not only set a new world record, his competitors where nowhere near him as he finished the race with plenty to spare. Man, through Usain Bolt, has proven once again that he can get better even if it doesn’t seem possible.

Mr. Bolt repeated his performance in the 200 meter sprint again breaking the world record. It seemed like an effortless run as he bolted out of the blocks and ran like he has never ran before, this time finishing the race like the true gentleman champion he was expected to be.

Bolt would, each time he won, break into dance showing the world that the Olympics is also about fun and the love for life.

Swimming and athletics often provide most of the Olympic highlights of games past. However, the Olympic spirit is reflected in all the sports it has to offer. Women’s softball is not an exception.

Being already voted as a delisted sport at least until 2016, due to the apparent dominance of the US team, softball was under harsh scrutiny from critics. A rather anti climactic ending however produced new heroes and reminded everyone that the Olympics is not always about beating someone else as it is about surpassing one’s own limitation.

Japan won the gold 4-1 beating the much heralded US women softball team. It was a game that focused on the pitching of one Yukiko Ueno who even as she pitched practically for Japan the entire tournament, emerged fresh as a daisy to fan out US team swatters.

The US team barged into the medal round scoring 57 to the total 2 runs produced by all the teams they played, but on that fateful day, the Olympic gods favored the Japan softbelles producing one of the biggest upsets in Olympic history. The irony lies in that the US is claiming that there is parity against the other teams and that women’s softball must be kept in the Olympic roster.

Several other unheard of stories round out the Olympic experience for me.

Tim Brabants, a 31 year old doctor from Great Britain besting the world’s best and record holders in the Men’s Kayak Singles 1000m event proves that age and determination can beat skill and youth. Coming out of retirement Brabants decided to try it out one more time. Up against the best the world can offer him like Erik Larsen of Norway and Ken Wallace of Australia, Brabants sneaked a win past all of them.

Even Kenya joined the medal haul. Although it has always been a powerhouse in long distance running, they have never won a gold in the men’s marathon. Wansiru Samuel Kamau finally leaves a mark for Kenya as he wins the country’s first ever gold in this event.

Victories do not always come in the form of having a gold medal around your neck. Natalie du Toit competed in the 10 kilometer swimming marathon and finished 16th out of a field of 24. Her victory is a silent one and not of the ordinary kind, it is one that means so much more. Natalie competed with an artificial left leg.

My heart cries out to the 15 Filipino athletes whose sacrifice and efforts seemed to have already been condemned even before the opening at the Birds Nest. We gave them very high targets and expected them to bring home medals but practically left them alone these past years of training.

We forget about the swimmers Miguel Molina, JB Walsh and Daniel Coakley who improved their personal best in the 200 individual medley, 200 butterfly and the 50 meter freestyle. Given the little that they had to work with, this is a feat in itself.

We forget to acknowledge that our 27 year old archer, Mark Javier, although did not make it to round 2 gave the best that Chinese-Taipei had to offer a few scary moments.
Kuo Cheng had to hit the bullseye twice with his last to arrows to get Javier of his back. Javier lost with a very close 106-102 score.

We refuse to appreciate that these individuals, who knew that if they failed will be scrutinized, blamed and lambasted, continued to give their time, effort and energy to represent our race.

The bedrock of the Olympic games was founded on the idea that the glory lies not in the conquering but is found in fighting well. The fight is not only about what our athletes do during those 16 days, the fight begins the moment we as a nation commit to taking part in the games.

Tales of triumph and men and women beating the odds made this the Beijing Olympics such a glorious event to me. I also learned that not all who are beaten are losers. We have heard it all before, those that pick themselves up and continue their quest to outdo themselves are winners for sure.

I cringe as I read stories that focus on the negative. I shy away from reading stories about losers, cheaters and countries that never seem to get it right. The Olympics was never mean to be that. It was meant to raise up man’s spirit. To me it is a testimony to the fact that we are God’s most precious creation. In our quest towards perfection, we continue to be better- faster, higher, stronger.