Long before people gathered on remote islands to outwit, outsmart and outplay…
Well before ABC insulted our intelligence with a show where “couples” accept keys to have sex on three consecutive nights in the “mystery suite”…
Before we could ever imagine the pain of enduring the pre-scripted drama of Nancy Grace and Marie Osmond on a show where people “dance”…
And eons before Chic-fil-A unintentionally/brilliantly launched World War III…
Before all this, there was a reality show with honor. The Games of the Olympiad.
The Olympics: A time when people of whom we’ve never heard (though they’ve dedicated their entire lives to this moment) become overnight sensations. And deservedly so.
Anyone who has an ounce of competition in their flesh loves the Olympics. It was a different venue where Jim McKay coined the phrase, but it truly is a picture of the thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.
I hope I never remember the name of a single reality show “star” I’ve ever seen, but I’ll never forget these folks … ever…
My top 10 Olympic memories …
10. Bruce Jenner‘s all-round performance to capture the Olympic decathlon. I was so young, I mostly remember this because he was on a box of Wheaties. Seems things have been downhill ever since for Jenner. I feel sorry for him with that clan he married into.
9. Sugar Ray Leonard, named after his mother’s favorite singer, was a light welterweight on the 1976 U.S. boxing team with teammates Leon and Michael Spinks and John Tate. They’re considered by many to be the greatest olympic boxing team of all-time. Leonard won the gold medal and went on to become the first professional boxer to bank $100 million.
8. Mark Spitz won seven gold medals and set a world record in each event in which he swam in Munich’s 1972 games. It’s a feat yet to be surpassed.
7. Kerri Strug won gold for her team (The Magnificent 7) in 1996, and the world will never forget her landing off the vault despite a ravaged ankle.
6. Mary Lou Retton was the first female outside eastern Europe to capture the all-round gymnastics title in 1984. And she was just so darned cute.
5. Vasily Alekseyev won weight-lifting gold medals in 1972 and 1976 and was the first man to clean-and-jerk 500 pounds. I watched it happen. It was absolutely incredible and you almost busted a gut just watching. In Greece, in 1999, Alekseyev was acknowledged as the best sportsman of the 20th Century.
4. Franz Klammer, an alpine skier from Austria, I will never forget. Behind 14 places in the treacherous downhill in Innsbruck’s 1976 Winter Games, Klammer flew down the hill as if his skies never touched the ground. Commentators said he literally skied on the edge of disaster in taking the gold by .33 second.
3. Nadia Comaneci, the stonefaced Romanian gymnast who won a
total of five gold medals from 1976 to 1980, was the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10. And the world celebrated her victory.
2. The U.S. Olympic hockey team‘s stunning victory over the Russians in the midst of the 1980 cold war was pure magic. Once again, we believed in miracles.
1. For me, the greatest moment in Olympic history came off the field of competition. So stunning was the moment when Muhammad Ali lit the Olympic torch in the 1996 summer games, I could hardly breathe. And for a moment, I believe it took the world’s collective breath away.
These are the world’s real reality stars.
An additional post on my primary blog today may be viewed here: http://wp.me/p2bjEC-uR