Let The Games Begin – Rio 2016 & My Gymnastics Obsession

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Tonight kicks off the most wonderful TV time every four years. Millions are gathering down in Rio, the opening ceremonies will start & the torch will officially be lit. For the next two weeks athletes will compete in the arena, on the track, in the water, etc but will form friendships from all around the world. 

How can you not get excited about it? 

Then again, maybe I’m just a little bit obsessed. 

My Gymnastics Obsession

Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs I’m not even going to lie and pretend that gymnastics is not an obsession in my life. As we gear up for Rio, we have been reminded what happened 20 years ago this summer in Atlanta. For me, and many others I’m sure, it’s where my gymnastics obsession began.

I won’t forget watching Kerri Strug vault. Although, my mom will tell you that it’s because we watched it over and over and over and over again. The Magnificent Seven won gold and after that week, I was officially hooked on gymnastics. 

Over the next 10(ish) years not only did I compete in gymnastics but I also started to coach gymnastics. The biggest impact gymnastics had on my life though was when I started designing websites for a number of US national team members. Back in the day of “official websites” long before social media I had a few pretty big ones on my list.

2004 Olympic Champion Paul Hamm and his twin brother Morgan were the most notable of the websites over the years. It is safe to say, one call you don’t expect to get the weekend you move in at college is a call about the Korean’s spamming your website after an athlete wins gold…at 5am. 

Gymnastics introduced me to some of my best friends over the years. There were teammates and fellow webmasters, to this day it is amazing how many of them I am still in touch with. From late night chat rooms (aol style) to summers dedicated to keeping websites up to date gymnastics was a huge part of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 

Bela Karolyi & I - 2002
Hanging With Iconic Gymnastics Coach Bela Karolyi in 2002.

I may not have been the best gymnast and I stopped coaching in 2008, but I do miss it. Gymnastics is streamed online a lot throughout the year, but when it comes to two straight weeks of it on TV. There is no chance I will have any other plans every four years. 

What I Am Looking Forward to in Rio

Gymnastics isn’t the only sport I’ll be watching. In fact, I tend not to care WHAT sport is on TV over the next two weeks. It really is the one time every four years that I’ll watch whatever is on, even if I don’t understand it. I love the stories, the medals and the upsets. 

Gymnastics

I mention the upsets and this is one that I’m really interested to see play out. Simone Biles has DOMINATED over the last 3 years. She has been cool under pressure and never appears to be hit by the fact that she is one of the best gymnasts ever. I really hope to see her continue to dominate over the next few weeks and live up to the INSANE hype that has been put on her by the media. 

With that being said, I can’t wait to see what Laurie Hernandez has to show. She is incredible and will be a top competitor in any event she is competing in. Without a doubt though the gymnast I’m most excited to see in Rio is Aly Raisman. The girls named her team captain and it is 100% deserved for how she has helped lead the team over the last few years. 

My heart breaks not seeing Romania qualify a team, but I can’t wait to see what teams come in having a breakout performance this year. It will be incredibly interesting to see how the team competition plays out.

On the men’s side I really hope this is the year we see the US Men back on the medal stands. Mark Williams is a FANTASTIC coach and they have put together one of the best teams I’ve seen. No doubt Chris Brooks deserved that captain title and I’ve cried over his story a few times already. 

Track & Field

I’ve watched a lot more track and field lately than I have in years past and the competition is insane. Track and Field has so many events, I can’t wait to watch. I truly don’t even know where to start in getting excited. 

Distance events are the ones I tend to get the most excited about. I hope to see the US bring home a medal on both sides of the marathon, which is sure to be a great race. US Track trials proved that the 5000m will be a fun event to watch. I’m also excited to see if Erik Kynard (from Toledo) can bring home another medal in the high jump. 

There are so many good events, I honestly have no idea where to start. 

Other Events

Michael Phelps was given the responsibility of flag bearer and his story will be one to follow throughout Rio. USA Swimming tends to dominate the medal count and I can’t wait to see what they can do this time.

Often considered part of gymnastics, trampoline will be another don’t miss event. Logan Dooley has been twice as an alternate and finally it is his turn to compete. No doubt we will be missing Charlotte Drury but Nicole Ashinger is going to be one to watch. 

Then there is beach volleyball, another sport that I wouldn’t watch any other time. About the only thing I know is that the US is going to be the team to beat. 

The Schedule For Rio

I spent the 2012 London games on the couch with first trimester morning sickness with Little Man. I fully plan on spending the next two weeks watching the Rio games on the couch at 35 weeks pregnant avoiding this summer heat.

There is a jam packed schedule of events down in Rio that technically has already kicked off. 

So if you need me for the next two weeks, you can find me on the couch watching all of the drama unfold…and probably crying my eyes out. 

What are you most looking forward to in Rio?

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