Another set of the Olympic Games have come and gone. I very much enjoyed watching the London events even if I didn’t catch as much as I wanted to. The neat thing about the Olympics is how we’re all on the same team. Your entire country is rooting for your team, it’s not just your city. It’s amazing how these games bring us together as fans.
Back in the Beijing Olympics, our hometown hero, Michael Phelps (Baltimore represent), was poised to make history. Mark Spitz owned a 36-year-old record with seven gold medals captured in a single Olympic Games. It was common knowledge Phelps went to Beijing with one goal, to sweep his events with gold medals.
On August 17, 2008 the Baltimore Ravens hosted a home preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings. As far as preseason games go, crowds tend to thin out almost completely after half time. Not that night, the Ravens organization planned to simulcast Michael Phelps’ final event, the 4x100-meter medley relay, on the jumbotron at the conclusion of the game.
Thousands endured a heated battle between Tarvaris Jackson and Kyle Boller. It turned out to be worth it. Watching Michael Phelps win his eighth medal with thousands of cheering fans is something I’ll never forgot. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I tried my best to capture the sentiment in the accompanied video. There are many skills I can list on my resume, cinematographer is not one of them.
“Every memory I have from when I was a kid involves basketball.”
— Kevin Durant
It’s cliche but this kid eats, sleeps and breathes basketball. It’s good to see KD and crew get their gold.
All the other kids with the pumped up kicks
You’d better run, better run, faster than my bullet
— Foster The People, Pumped Up Kicks
Gail Devers. Those fingernails. How can an Olympic athlete have finger nails that long? Well, when you Gail Devers you can do just about anything you want.
Devers came out of high school ranked as one of the top hurdlers in the country. She set a national record in the 100 meter hurdles and earned a spot on the 1988 Olympic team. While training for the Seoul Olympics she started to experience muscle pains and drop in weight. She was eliminated in the semi-finals with her slowest time since high school. Experts said that she practiced too hard, she put too much strain on her body.
But after the Olympics she felt worse. She started to lose her hair and hearing, her nails stopped growing and her skin fell away from her face. For the next two years nobody could diagnose her illness. Eventually she was treated for Graves disease and underwent radiation therapy. Complications from the radiation led her unable to walk. Doctors considered amputating her feet.
Gail Devers overcame all odds and recovered in time to compete in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She qualified for the 100 meter sprint and captured the gold in an unbelievable photo finish. Four years later she represented the USA in Atlanta and took home another two gold medals. Like I said, Gail Devers can do whatever she wants.
At the risk of sounding corny I am going to admit John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” gives me goosebumps. We’ve been waiting for this. Michael Phelps vs. Ryan Lochte, Usain Bolt on a fast track, T-Rex, teenaged Tom Daley, and these guys — I’m all in. And what better compliments than Joe Posnanski’s blog from London and NBC Olympic Live Extra for my iPad?
A Chitwood & Hobbs Field Report