My personal hero of these Olympic Games has suddenly become Rulon Gardner. I mean, he participates in a sport I couldn’t care less about, but the guy is amazing. He’s endured an amazing amount just to get to where he is, and then retired when he said he would. It’s a testament to the strength of his character that he could go out there, wrestle the way he did, accept the bronze with the dignity that he did, and leave his shoes in the middle of the mat. Yes, it’s considered walking away, but no one has ever done it with the grace that he did. He said that the next match he lost would be his last. It technically wasn’t, as he had to continue on to the bronze medal match in order to earn that honor, but after that, he took off his shoes, placed them in the center of the mat, and walked away from wrestling. And good for him. It made me, and I’m sure a good chunk of the other viewers and spectators, cry and good on him for being so courageous. Here’s to you, Rulon.
In other retirement news, Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Brandi Chastain and Joy Fawcett are going out with a bang as well, having beaten Brazil in the gold medal overtime final for their third straight Olympic gold medal. I had the good fortune to watch the 2003 Women’s World Cup here in Portland and had the time of my life, especially when the US came to town. I also caught the exhibition game when the women came to town during the 1999 World Cup. I also had pictures of the US team all over my wall at camp during the 1999 Cup. My sister and I both played soccer as kids, she longer than I, but we both rabidly devoured anything regarding the US women’s team. These women showed a soccer-oblivious country what it was like to watch women’s sports, to respect women’s sports and most of all, to celebrate women’s sports. Seeing these women go makes me sad because I will miss them, but I cannot wait to see the continuation of what they started.
The only thing that’s bugging me is Bush’s refusal to take down his Olympic ad, after repeated requests from the IOC, the USOC and a protest from some of the Iraqi soccer players. I don’t think it’s being ungrateful. I think it’s disrespectful and contrary to an act of Congress that states that the USOC has “exclusive rights to such terms as ‘Olympic,’ derivatives such as ‘Olympiad,’ and the five interlocking rings. It also specifically says the organization ‘shall be nonpolitical and may not promote the candidacy of an individual seeking public office.’” I got that quote from the sidebar in the Sports section of the Oregonian. Either way, Bush is now defying the IOC, the USOC and an act of Congress. Guess someone ate his Wheaties this morning. Gah.
Quote of the Day: “We could steal time/Just for one day/We can be heroes/For ever and ever/What d'you say?” Heroes, David Bowie