Thirty-seven days, five hours and 32 minutes.
That’s how long we have until the Olympic torch reaches London, kicking off the 2012 summer games.
So while we wait these 37 days, five hours and 31 minutes now, let’s talk best Olympic moments.
Your favorite certainly depends on the sports you like to watch. For the summer games, I tune into gymnastics, swimming and diving, and sometimes track.
I loved rooting for the U.S. ice hockey team when they took on Canada during the 2010 Winter Olympics, though the end result reaffirmed my dislike of a certain Pittsburgh Penguin captain (Go Caps). And I enjoy seeing not only what those crazy snowboarders can do with a thin board and a little imagination but also what they name their signature moves – Shaun White’s “Double McTwist,” for example. I’m also glad I have a sister who likes to watch figure skating, because I doubt my boyfriend appreciates a good triple axel.
But I think my favorite Olympic moment was the gymnastic competition in 1996 – the year of the “Magnificent Seven.” Shannon Miller, Dominique Dawes, Dominique Moceanu, Amy Chow, Amanda Borden, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug, who was literally on her last leg when she helped claim the team’s gold medal in Atlanta.
I spent years of my childhood in gymnastics – my mom signed me up realizing I needed to burn energy in ways that didn’t involve tumbling off the furniture. I could do a pretty good round-off from the couch, if I do say so myself. I remember having a poster in my room of Shannon Miller, still the most decorated gymnast (male or female) in American history. Her mom probably let her tumble inside the house.
Miller and the girls of the Magnificent Seven remain the only U.S. women’s gymnastics team to claim Olympic gold. I can still see the moments of trial, like the series of balance beam flips that ended with Dominique Moceanu missing her footing and smashing her head on the beam. But what stands out has been called one of the most enduring moments in Olympic history. The last event was the vault, and it all came down on the shoulders of little Kerri Strug, who had a reputation for struggling under pressure.
When she fell and sprained her ankle on her first vault, she probably should have stopped there. But a true Olympian, Strug ran on the injured ankle, flipped off the vault and stuck her next landing, on one leg. Her score, a 9.7, was enough to clinch the gold.
The Olympics have provided so many other moments of greatness, from new world records to compelling stories of personal journeys. What’s your favorite?