While I understand more about the summer Olympics, I always enjoy watching young people at the top of their game in any season.
In 1972 I fell in love with Olga Korbut at the Summer, that fateful summer in Munich. I was trying to be a runner but took second leg (slowest) on a relay team and convinced the lady who spoke on the old loudspeakers in classrooms that we “came in second” even though there were only two teams.
I switched to gymnastics and didn’t have a place on our team. When we moved, within six weeks I was elected captain and had to train a team. Let it be said that I was a better captain than gymnast.
Back then Title IX was in its first stages. Our male and female gymnasts practiced separately, the guys with a gorgeous gym with a wood floor. We had linoleum tiles over concrete.
I ran for the vault multiple times, barefoot, over concrete and always had shin splints. To this day I remember how to dress them. When I went to college they promised gymnastics and a good “girls'” gym. They never did any of it. I lifted weights in the guy’s gym. The only thing on our side was one of those 1950’s band things that shimmies one’s behind.
At age 27 my knee swelled up. I was misdiagnosed for over 20 years until one doctor said I have rheumatoid arthritis. Many of today’s athletes have access to the best equipment, safety and otherwise, that technology can provide. We had wooden balance beams and concrete floors.
There was no way I was ever going to be an athlete, much less go for Olympic Gold. I do thank Olga and Nadia for what they inspired me to be.
When I did a trick on the rings in practice I had no mat. It was during the State finals and I went on anyway. I had a concussion but all the doctor asked is to repeat after him. He whispered 1, 2, 6 and I repeated it and he told my mother I was fine.
Today all my joints ache. I’ve worn golf bracelets for years so I can still type (magenetized to minimize arthritis) but my feet have hurt for years and I’ve edema so now need to wear compression socks.
Parents, we’ve heard so much about football head injuries and heart failures in that and other sports. I don’t know if we’re pushing our kids further or not protecting them enough.
I know that other injuries will come if childhood safety is not protected and enforced. Everyone cares about the NFL and boxing but no one is speaking up for the girls. Title IX should be enforced everywhere.
Stories, yes I’ve a ton of them but right now protect your kids. Let them play sports but make sure they’ve the right setting and equipment. Thanks, Dee