woensdag 27 augustus 2008

The color of Gold!

The games are over and out for four long years!!!! London will be the four next years quite busy with preparing their Olympic stage and trying to be best host. It won't be no easy job because did these Chinese go hard! Jacques Rogge, (Belgian, yeah) the president of the IOC called it 'exceptional games'! Very diplomatic! He is still aware of how many people think about these games but they were quite exceptional over all!

There were many highlights and I am happy to say that once again I witnessed, by being a potatocouch. Here a list of my personal favourite moments:

- The eight gold medals of Michael Phelps: thanks to Omega (one of his major sponsors) he now owns eight medals gained in one Olympic Game! He made it look so simple. Wonder what he will do in London in 2012!

- Lucien Bold: Jamaica seems to have found the perfect recipe to make people run faster. They even don't have to make sure their running shoes are in order to run. Even then they break world records. Yes, you are the best, Lucien but according to the IOC president you will have to work a bit on your social skills.

- The little Chinese gymnasts: their age will never be revealed but they really showed us amazing things. These flexible girls can do things that my body wouldn't survive. I just hope that they make it to their thirties without ending up into a wheelchair.

The final days of the Olympics were for our nation quite colorful. We still had no medal what so ever and many were already that desperate to think they would fly into Zaventem empty handed! There were some Belgian atletes out there that were a bit offended because they really tried. We came in many time fourth but that is no use if the only thing that really counts is a medal. Many Belgian atletes ended top 10 or 15 but that seems rather a lost cause of all the hard work.

The Bird's nest, the Olympic stadium, is quite a sight from the outside. It was there that a few girls did what many before them tried to do but did not manage to do: winning medals for our small nation. Winning a medal in atletics is still a bit more special. It are these sports that go back into Olympic history quite far. Altletics are still called the mother of sports and so winning a medal in that catagory is very special. Belgians are rather special people so I guess these prices were rather fitting for them!

To start no medal but quite a race!!! The Belgian boys of the 4x400m. They are still quite young but they were convinced they belonged out there on the track with the big guys. They made it into the finals and what we got to see was rather very promising for London. Off they were and till runner 4 they were in position 2. It was one of those images that I will never forget to see a Belgian runner next to an American one!! Goliath and David!!! My adrenaline ran wild. So guys, congrats on a great race. Keep up the good work!!!

Kim Gevaert, the celebrated Belgian sprintster on the 100m, failed in the qualifications and was quite down. She canceled her run for the 200 metres. Kim has some good friends who run with her 4x100m. These four girls are quite a team. The final was a nailbiter. For a moment we even were in the running for gold. The British girls who had told them a few months before:'Hi girls we are going to get you in Beijing!', didn't even made it to the finish. Also the female collegues of the fastest man of Jaimaica didn't get there. Silver it was!!! That color looked quite well on them!
Out there was still one woman that could do it but she had to jump quite high. Tia Hellebaut is woman out of one piece. Very modest, knows what she is after in her life. Always works hard and has a coach she dearly loves. Before her final jumps she looked so serene. The stressbunny was nowhere in sight. It seemed that the only opponent she had to face was the height. One by one her collegues bumped into a long stick and before we knew we had silver once more.

Tia had to jump a personal record (2m05) in order to get her hands on gold. While I saw her running to that freighting height I closed my eyes! And she made it. Tia screamed it out!!!!!! It sounded like she let out all the frustrations the Belgian atletes were chased by. When her final opponent failed (and it was not one of the least: only the most talented worldchampion of Croatia with killing eyes) Blanka Vlasic we knew that this was going to be mental game. Tia called it the day and Blanka had to get over 2m05. She failed once more and Tia had that piece of gold that many are after but only a few can obtain: a gold Olympic medal and the title of Olympic champion.

It was amazing to see her do it and when she ran off to see her family the tears came!!! Out there was standing tall one of the most complete atletic women that our nation will ever have and when she hugged her family she just let things go. As an audience I always feel then a bit out of place. They have all the right to be there and when they saw their daughther, stephdaughter (Tia doesn't know her biological father!) and sister becoming an Olympic hero you just get out all these emotions that you had to hold back for such a long time. The tears were real, the smiles and hugs very warm!! I felt very priveledged to be a witness of such a private moment.

It is not only that moment that I will cherish of that very special event. No, it is an other moment during the competition. Tia and Blanka are compared by many and most people agree that our girl is more popular then the most talented Croatian superjumper!! Kim Clijsters seems to be quite a roll model or is it being Belgian (Flemish) that makes us so liked by others? I have read this before the competition but what I saw made my heart just melt!!

Olympic games are suppossed to be fair games and you are a priveledged atlete to compete in such an event. But we all know that once the battle is on for gold that friendship is hard to find out there. Well, when Tia went for one of her last jumps many of her collegues were still out there catching their breathes, getting their trainers back on, packing their stuff. Most of them felt defeated but while doing all these things they will still try to catch glimpse of what is going on. Tia made it over 2m03 and while she was getting it all out in the back there was a girl jumping up and down!!!

Believe it or not it was one of her fellow competioners: Chaunte Howard, from the USA. She really went bezerk!! This american girl showed real happiness for the achievements of one of her rivals!!! Yes, they are friends but they met on the sports stage while competing!! That is an achievement in itself!

To me that is the real Olympic spirit! I have not seen it that many times the last three weeks. Chaunte, you only came in seventh but if there is a price for a genuine, authentic sportmanship you are a true Olympic athlete!! Thank you for making one of the final days of these exceptional games so special!! You can sure that when you decide to high jump in London in 2012 you will have two extra fans: Tia (she wants to have kids by that time to sit in the audience with) and me!!

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