I love the Olympics. I still consider them the pinnacle of athletic achievement. Athletes train for years and years for one moment, one performance, one chance to put it all together and attempt to win gold... to be the best in the world. I am more of a Summer Olympics fan but I still find myself drawn to the Winter Games this week. Being raised in the South and not at all comfortable on slippery surfaces I am not familiar with most of the events. I can appreciate, however, the amazing athletes and their pursuit of Olympic glory.
I have met a few Olympic champions over the years and hold them in high esteem. As a child of the 70s, they are on my hero list just below astronauts and well above Evel Knievel.
Read about my encounter with an Olympian in this post: Dave Wottle, 800m Gold)
When I see the Olympic torch on TV I am reminded of my only personal encounter with the Olympic Games.
In 1996, when the Olympic torch made it's way across the country headed towards the Summer Games in Atlanta, I was fortunate enough to be chosen to carry the torch when it came through my town. The US Olympic Committee sent us "official gear" and uniforms. It was very cool. The Torch Cauldron would arrive by rail on a special train car.
A few days before it's arrival I was informed that I would be the torch bearer who would get to stand on the stage with the VIPs, light my torch from the Cauldron and run the first leg down Main Street and up the courthouse steps. When I arrived to meet the train it seemed that the entire town was out to cheer on the torch. I remember being excited and having pre-race butterflies even though i would only carry the torch about a 1/4 mile. The train arrived, speeches were made and the last thing i remember was getting the signal to light my torch from the 7' tall cauldron as the Olympic theme music began playing. It was all a blur until I got to the top of the courthouse steps and lit the next runners torch.
The torch is now a great show-and-tell item that will always remind me of that amazing day.