Today is Olympic Day. A day to celebrate everything the Olympic Games stand for and most importantly a great opportunity to show a child the power of sport. It is a day to be inspired and inspire others.
For me, it is also a day to remember the first time I was inspired by the Olympics. I was 11 years old and had just taken some time off of swimming because I thought there were more exciting ways to spend my time. My dad was a huge Olympic fan and had planned a family vacation to the 1984 LA Games. There were so many reasons not to go…."the traffic will be insane", "all the hotels are full" and "tickets are impossible to find". My dad, the native LA guy, wasn't concerned for a second about all of the warnings. He knew he would find a way.
And he did…and so began my dream. We found tickets to every event we wanted to attend. My '84 Olympic experience began with the Opening Ceremonies…and that was just the beginning. It took to me about 2 seconds to catch the Olympic Fever. From that point, we went to boxing matches, wrestling matches, volleyball games, track and field and, of course, swimming! I waited outside the venue for everyone's autograph…from Pernell Whitaker to Mary T Meagher! I had everyone sign a little American Flag and saved it until my dad's house burnt down 3 years ago.
On our way home from LA, I called my best friend and told her I was going to start swimming again. I was truly inspired and motivated. From that moment on, when I imagined my dream Olympic moment, it had memories of the LA Games written all over it. I would imagine Mary Lou nailing her final vault to win the all-around gold medal or Tracy Caulkins watching the American Flag being raised with tears in her eyes. I would replace their moment with my face.
Today is a celebration of "the dream"! A celebration of kids everywhere believing they can do anything they want to, as long as they put their mind to it.