The Olympic spirit is for all nations to come together in a peaceful gathering and all reconnect with humankind. However, we all watch the Olympics to see if our athletes are better than all the others. With that gold medal it signifies that you are the most dominant athlete in your sport. Looking at even the bigger picture we can compare the best of the best.
Traditionally the winner of the heptathlon has been crowned the world’s greatest female athlete. The reasoning is that a heptathlete must be able to sprint, throw, jump, and have endurance. However, maybe we need to rethink our crowning criteria of the world’s greatest athlete. I feel that maybe we need to look off the track to find the world’s greatest athlete and go into a gymnasium. While it takes skill and ability to compete on the world’s stage in hurdles, shot put, high jump, javelin, long jump, 800 and 200 meters, a gymnast has to do all that with a smile and solid landing.
Gymnastics are the roughest and most grueling of all sports. In no other field are you celebrated, spit out, and forced to retire all before the time you attend college. Watching the trials and seeing last Olympic’s all-around winner Nastia Liukin get thrown off the bars and hit the floor heavy has to wonder why anyone competes in this unforgiving sport. I am not trying to belittle or judge too harshly the other female athletes, since they also do amazing things. I just think that comparing some sports is ridiculous. For instance, can a world class archer really be considered in the upper echelons of athletes? Gymnastics is a sport that can only be done by a select few, you have to have the right body, wicked strength and no fear. Trying to imagine making my body flip, spin, twirl and wink at judges that are looking for any and every excuse to deduct points is out of the realm of possible. Also being six feet tall probably wouldn’t help me out much.
This summer Olympics marks the first time in a while that Team USA is poised and ready to make a run at a gold medal. Not since the 1996 team was female gymnastics in the states ready (or able) to be a serious contender for the gold. Leading this squad is Jordyn Wieber and Gabby Douglas, both of which are favorites to medal in the all-around competition. Wieber won the 2011 World Championships but came in second at the Olympic trial to Douglas. Both athletes will be stars to watch in London’s North Greenwich Arena. If either athlete can come away with a gold I move to elevate their status to not just best gymnast, but best female athlete in the world.