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Excellence. Respect. Friendship. Those are the 3 Olympic values, and three of the reasons I love the Olympics so much. For 16 days every two years, we get to watch excellence from the athletes, as they show respect for their sport, and build friendships with people they may not have met otherwise. For 16 days, there is unity in this crazy world we live in. For 16 days, I get lost in something that is bigger than myself, and I truly enjoy it.

The London Olympics had their closing ceremonies on Sunday, and while it’s been nice getting to bed before midnight, I was sad to say goodbye. The past two weeks were filled with lots of celebratory tears, excitement, and a little bit of anxiety. I covered my eyes, held my breath, and cheered the athletes along from my living room. I even stood on my couch and ran with Allyson Felix towards her gold medal in a race she refers to as her baby.

I get competition. I was an athlete growing up, spending most of my childhood in a gymnasium or on a diving board. But at the end of the day, I didn’t have the commitment it took to be an Olympic athlete. By the time college rolled around, I felt that I had given much of my childhood to that point, to my sports. And decided to leave it behind. That doesn’t mean I don’t miss it. Over the years, I’ve had many dreams that I still dive.

I’ve always loved the Olympics, however I believe they have meant different things to me at different points in my life. When I was little I thought maybe I could be like Nadia Comaneci and score a perfect 10. Now in my 30’s, I enjoy being a spectator and cheering everyone on. I know how much work goes in to being a high school athlete, and that’s worlds away from being an Olympic athlete. I remember the joy of winning, and I know the disappointment when things don’t work out the way you had hoped.

What draws me back every two years, is the desire to be inspired by athletes from around the world. People like Oscar Pistorius, because he defied the odds, running as a double amputee, the U.S. swimmers, who jointly brought home 31 medals, the Jamaican men going 1,2,3 in the 200 m, and Kirani James winning the first medal ever for Grenada. Just thinking about it all still gives me chills.

As one of the broadcasters said during the closing ceremonies about the athletes, “they have been living in fantasy land and now it’s time to get back to real life land”. For some more than others, they may be able to draw out the fantasy land. But for me, it’s time to get back to focusing on my life. I’d like to thank all the Olympic athletes for reminding me you can do anything you put your mind to.

What do the Olympics mean to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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