Friday, August 22, 2008

Watching the gymnastics during the Olympics has made me remember when I was 9 years old and learning the basics. It was a fun way to pass the time, and both Mereth and I were keen and enthusiastic. The photo above is our Saturday class on the balance beam; Mereth is the first girl in black leotard, and I am the second. That photo took a while to set up, with all those little girls giggling and overbalancing and not looking in the right direction.

I remember being praised by the instructors, and someone approaching Mum about us trying out for the state team and being picked for special presentations, but it all went over my head. I just wanted to muck around and turn cartwheels and somersaults and soar upwards on the trampoline. I didn't want to be serious about any of it.

It was just a small country town gym, with not much equipment, and after two years I started to lose interest when I realised the risks of landing on the floor with not enough safety mats. The uneven bars and the beam were the worst, with huge metal stands underneath, right where you landed after you fell off. Once we'd learnt all the easy things, and started attempting the difficult manouvres, it started to involve real committment. And after taking some heavy falls, and seeing a girl carted off screaming by the ambulence folks after a mishap on the tramoline, I sort of lost heart. I just didn't want it badly enough.

Those girls at the Olympics do want it badly, enough to take all the falls and the bruises and the disappoinments. I really am amazed at them, and it's one of my favourite things to watch. But when they're on the balance beam I remember exactly how much it hurt to smack your shoulder on it, tumbling down on the way to the floor. I admire their courage.

But the fear of injuring myself didn't stop me riding horses, oddly enough. I did want that badly enough, and even though I fell off, I always got back on again, once with a broken coccyx and once with concussion that put me in hospital. I guess when you're out in the paddock you have to get back on and ride home no matter what. But riding was always worth the risks involved.

I can't wait for the day when we get to choose our own Olympic coverage, and see our favourite sports and none of the others. I will be watching every minute of the gymnastics and the equestrian events, that's for sure. Team synchronised swimming? Don't think so. Distance swimming? As Mereth says, it's like watching mice drowning; not much of a spectator sport. Give me the horses any day.


Mary Johnson 6:19 PM  

I didn't really explore it but I thought the NBC website allowed you to watch a lot of events online. I've been on a binding marathon so I've just watched what was on the TV.

Char 1:45 PM  

The dressage was beautiful this year. Being from Kentucky, horses are a major part of life. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Henrietta 11:02 PM  

Love the picture of you as gymnast, one of many things I never tried, it was pretty much horses all the way until I got too busted up and now its still horses but from the ground. Not nearly as much fun.

bingo~bonnie 7:23 AM  

as you can tell from all my posts today, I've enjoyed catching up on your blog and all the past months :)

This entry of you and your sister taking gymnastics when you were growing up is perfect timing for me and my 5 year old - we just signed her up yesterday and she goes tonight for her fist lesson. I think she's going to enjoy it as she really would like to be a cheerleader when she's older. ;)

That photo is adorable of all the girls on the balance beam! I can imagine it took a while to get everyone just so. But lucky for you they did get it. What a treasure to have in your memory box. Thanks for sharing it with us! ;) I can't wait to show my daughter Nora when she gets home form Kindergarten today. ;)

Love from Texas! ~bonnie

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