I travelled to Utah this past weekend, and while there I was reminded of my wonderful yet ridiculous obsession with the Olympics, which I explored last year when I covered the 2010 Winter Olympics for TSL.
My Olympic obsession began around eigth grade with the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. I watched as many events as possible and became particularly invested in track and field and running. British runner Paula Radcliffe had been featured on the cover of Time magazine earlier that year as an athlete to watch. Following Time’s advice, I watched her run the marathon only to be disappointed by her performance—she dropped out halfway through the race after a physical breakdown.
I then watched Carolina Kluft win the heptathlon and, as would become a common theme, became determined that I should try one myself. That fleeting desire never came to fruition. After watching speed-walking, my dad and I attempted to master the art, as we walked around imitating the speed-walkers. Speed-walking is difficult, and again this Olympic attempt was short-lived. In high school, my desire to participate in the Olympics became a well-known fact and my friends created a Facebook group to support me—“We’re all for Amy Brownstein Olympics 2012.” My goal was to get into the Olympics for the marathon. Well, that’s definitely not going to happen—a sad yet true realization.
After the 2004 Olympics, I became a huge fan. For the 2006 Winter Olympics, I set my internet browser’s home page to the Olympic website and would watch events on television whenever I had a second of free time. I was completely mesmerized. When the Olympics ended, I wore all black.
Soon after, my family and I went skiing in Utah. One day I got separated from my group. Scared of big ski slopes and falling, I took off my skis in order to walk down the mountain. Another group of people came by and ended up helping me ski down the mountain. At the bottom, the person who had helped me the most gave me his business card. I immediately recognized the name Jim Shea as the 2002 Winter Olympic skeleton gold medalist. Needless to say, this was the most exciting thing ever! I returned home and laminated his business card so that I could carry it everywhere with me and show people. I had finally met an Olympian! During that same trip, I spent about three days in the Olympic museum photographing, reading, and memorizing every single little thing. This experience took my Olympic obsession to the next level, a step I was quite happy to take.
I still live and breathe for the Olympics. While some people do tours of World Cup stadiums or other artifacts, I think one day I’ll do tours of Olympic stadiums and museums and perhaps even attend all the events myself. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but I’m certain my obsession will propel me to figure it out. In the meantime I guess I’ll just have to wait for the 2012 summer Olympics and think about how I unfortunately will not participate in it.