Every four years, we are reminded there are sports other than football and basketball in which athletes compete and excel. The Olympic Games also provide a pleasant diversion from the monotony of the dog days of summer.
The London 2012 Summer Olympics took on added meaning with former Granite Shoals resident and Marble Falls High School graduate Leonel "Leo" Manzano winning silver in the 1,500 meters Aug. 7. I first became acquainted with Leo when he was a teammate on my daughter’s seventh-grade track team. He was just as impressive then. He went on to the University of Texas at Austin.
Manzano continues to amaze his fans, but those of us who have known him through the years are not surprised. While at 5 feet 5 inches he looks like David vs. Goliath when he competes, he has never allowed his size to hinder his performance. We have all come to anticipate his final kick down the stretch, watching him pass his competition.
My wife and I are watching as much of the London Games as we possibly can because we enjoy many sports. To be the best in the world at anything really is quite an extraordinary achievement. The hours, days and years these competitors put into their respective sports for a few brief moments of recognition are quite remarkable.
What I like best, though, are the stories told about athletes who overcame adversity to make their respective teams to compete in London, such as American cyclist Kristen Armstrong. The 24-year-old native of Boise, Idaho, won the gold medal in the time trial after suffering a collision in the first weekend of competition in the road race.
Ironically, she turned to cycling only after being diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her hip, which prevented her from competing as a triathlete. Adding insult to injury, the gold medalist suffered a broken collarbone in another cycling accident just three months before the start of the Olympics.
Oscar Pistorius of South Africa has another inspiring story. He became the first paraplegic to compete in the regular Olympics, running in the 440-meter dash using two artificial lower legs. The runner survived the preliminaries, but failed to make the finals. Undeterred, the South African pledged to make it to Rio de Janeiro in 2016.
For a brief time, the world seems at peace, as nations put aside their philosophical differences and competitors exchange pins, shake hands and embrace.
The Olympic Games bring back wonderful memories of past performances and scenes of exhilarating joy and, on the flip side, the agony of defeat. Who will forget the youthful smiles of American swimmers Missy Franklin, Allison Schmidtt, Rebecca Soni and Dana Vollmer during the medal ceremony in their world record-setting individual medley performance?
As for me, I continue to be mesmerized by the athleticism of the beach volleyball tandem of Kerri Walsh-Jennings and Misty May-Treanor as they continue their quest for a third straight gold medal.
The Olympic Games has something for everyone.
Laughlin is a Christian Libertarian. He is an economist, teacher, father, husband and most recently a grandfather. He has written a weekly column for The Tribune for 13 years. He and his wife Gina reside in Meadowlakes. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org. He is an independent columnist, not a staff member, and his views do not necessarily reflect those of The Tribune or its parent company.