Friday, August 24, 2012

Friday's Top Five - Things I love and will miss about the Olympics

My lovely and lifelong friend Danielle has come up with a brilliant idea called “Friday’s Top Five” in which she and I (and hopefully Junior, the Brutha from another Mutha) will post a Top Five list each Friday and then refer our readers to each other’s blogs. We will write independently on the same topic, so you’ll get to see each person’s perspective on the varying subject matter each week.

Given that the Olympic Games were just held in London and are still fresh in our hearts, we’ve decided to begin this blogging escapade with…..

The Top Five Things I Love and Will Miss about the Olympics:

5) Always having something to watch on TV.

Back before I became a mom who also works fulltime outside the home, I was what is known as a TV-aholic. I had a handful of can’t-miss television shows I’d tune in to (or record) each week, and I’d sometimes even go online to read the latest gossip surrounding these programs.

But these days that big, rarely-used box that sits on our fireplace sometimes goes days without being turned on. So far this week I haven’t watched one single television program myself. And it’s already Friday. (My daughter, on the other hand, enjoyed back-to-back Caillou episodes last night while I scrambled to prepare lunches for today and wash a week’s worth of dishes. Such is what has become of my evenings.)

So when I do actually find some quiet time where I can turn on the TV and watch anything I want, I’m at a loss. I’ve never even heard of half the stuff out there, and none of it holds my attention long enough to keep me away from folding laundry or organizing my inbox at the same time.

Except for the Olympics.

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London guaranteed that, for a two-week stretch, there was something to be enjoyed on television at all times. AT ALL TIMES!

And it didn’t matter that I would normally never tune in to watch women’s weightlifting coverage. Because it’s the Olympics! And I’ll watch ANYTHING Olympic!

Even my husband, a self-professed Olympic-hater, was oddly spellbound by the women’s synchronized diving event.

(Okay, maybe it was just the teeny bathing suits and the athletes’ muscular physiques that he enjoyed..... but still. At least he, too, had something to watch!)

4) Steve Tilley’s daily Olympic coverage.

I loved reading columnist Steve Tilley’s articles back when he was a mere local writer working at the Edmonton Sun, and I still love reading them now that he’s reached the Big Time in Toronto. And by the Big Time, I mean HE RECENTLY GOT PAID TO WATCH THE OLYMPICS. And follow them on Facebook. And Twitter. And any other variety of social media you can think of.

In short: Tilley watched, reviewed, and mocked. He commented on things that all of us were thinking but never dreamed of putting into print. And he made me laugh.

Case in point, his delicate yet delightful commentary on American rower Henrik Rummel’s misadventures in his shorts.

“Coxless? Not so much.”

Oh, Tilley, you magnificent bastard. How I will miss your Olympic coverage.

3) The gut-wrenching and endearing stories.

I admit it. I’m a sucker for those Olympic athlete profiles on CTV. It matters not whether the athlete wins a medal or places last in their heat, because once they’ve been featured on CTV, they become instant celebrities (in Canada, anyway).

Take Rosannagh (Rosie) MacLennan.

In 1940, her grandfather qualified for the Summer Olympics as a gymnast, but then the war broke out and he wasn’t able to compete. Fast forward 50+ years, and he became his granddaughter’s biggest fan as she qualified for the trampoline event in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

But then he died mere months before she was slated to compete.

The injustice!

Not one to simply wither away, MacLennan pressed forward and volunteered at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, just so she could get close to the athletes and be involved in the Olympic Village once again.

And where is she now, you ask? Probably at home shining her GOLD medal from the London Olympics. That’s right. She did it. She came back to compete and became Canada’s only Golden Olympian at these Games.

How can you not love a semi rags-to-riches / girl next door story such as this??

*sigh* If only her grandfather was here to celebrate with her today…

2) The sense of national pride.

There exist two things in this country that elicit more national pride than everything else combined: beer commercials and sporting events. (Better yet, beer commercials FEATURING sporting events.)

Sure, hockey is our favourite national pastime, but the Olympics have it all as there is something for everyone. (Refer back to point #5 above where my supposedly Olympic-hating husband ogled drooled over was entranced by the women’s synchronized diving event.)

So even if you’re not interested in the competitions and had previously never heard of the trampoline event, how can you not stand up and cheer for Rosie MacLennan proudly accepting her gold medal for Canada? Just hearing that anthem gives me goose bumps every time.

And it’s not just me -- even Justin Bieber (a nice, quiet Canadian boy) and Samuel L. Jackson (an Olympic-obsessed American movie star) tweeted about Canada’s gold medal win:

@JustinBieber 4 Aug 12
CANADA!!!! We love our trampolines!! Congrats to @RosieMacLennan on GOLD!! #ProudCanadian

@SamuelL.Jackson 4 Aug 12
BTW, a Big Shout Out to the MUTHACANUKIN Gold Medal Trampoliners!!

See, even the American feels our national pride.

1) The idea that I can live vicariously through our Olympic athletes.

My Olympic obsession started when I was a 10-year-old whippersnapper fixated on the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, a mere hop, skip, and jump from where I live. And by 1992, at age 14, I was so enthralled by the Summer Games in Barcelona that I was actually late for my summer job one afternoon because I couldn’t break away from watching coverage of Mark Tewksbury’s gold medal win in the 100m backstroke.

Oh, Mark. You beautiful specimen of a man.

This is also when I first took notice that many of the athletes sported a tattoo of a Canadian maple leaf and the Olympic rings. So. Freaking. Cool.

I lived and breathed everything Olympic that summer, and I so desperately wanted to be just like the competitors -- Fit. Athletic. Canadian sweethearts.

Now, for those who know me, you’ll agree that I am neither fit nor athletic nor a sweetheart. But I am Canadian. Which makes it perfectly acceptable for me to sport a Canadian maple leaf tattoo, right?

Alas, there will never be any Olympic rings beneath my tattoo, but for approximately two weeks every two years, I can live vicariously through our athletes.

You know, while sitting on the couch and giving my fingers a workout with the laptop. Ahem.

Okay, so that’s installment numero uno! Now it’s time to head over to Divulge With Dani to read her take on the same subject. And be sure to leave us comments. We love comments.


  1. We can live vicariously through our athletes. If there was an Olympic event called couch sitting, I would SO WIN.

    Very good blog today! I agree with your points! Can't wait to see what we do next week.

  2. I miss the Olympics too... especially the swimmers and their muscular physique lol But the other reasons are good too!

  3. Hi Joanne! How is everything? Oh, sorry, the Olympics... Um, I also love the Olympics because it reminds us all of what the human body can do and that, because we ostensibly have the same bodies that athletes have minus prodigious talent, we could try to be like them in some way. I guess this goes back to living vicariously, Joanne, but I like to dream that if I actually put down the Zebra Cakes (NEVER) and went to the gym and pushed myself and "reeeeached hiiiigher" (sorry, Gloria Estefan started to come out), I could both achieve some kind of talent... and be able to walk around in a Speedo with confidence.

    Can we talk about those Speedos for a second. Did you watch men's diving. That is not a bathing suit. That is a fabric swatch stitched to your butt. I'm not complaining, but seriously, we might as well go naked (which would make the synchronized competition a real competition ifyouknowwhatImean. Alright, I've officially sullied a wonderful post.

  4. Dani & Sonya - Glad you stopped in and you liked the post!

    Oh, and Junior, you make me laugh! Feel free to sully my blog at will with your comments, as I too have a special place in my heart for Speedos on Olympians.