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Olympic fever continues

Published August 20. 2016 09:02AM

Olympic fever is still going strong, although the toll of late nights is starting to catch up with me. The kids, however, are still awed and amazed by just about everything they are seeing. Since I shared some of my perspectives last week, I thought it would be fun to look at it from their point of view this week.

This is the first Olympics where the kids are old enough not only to engage in watching the games, but they also have a little bit of their own sports careers to draw on to compare experiences.

One of the most educational experiences for them has been realizing just how big our world is. There have been many countries announced that they’ve never heard of, and they have taken turns rooting for and against various countries. After the Efimova doping debacle during swimming (yes, we had to have a discussion about doping with the 10-, 8-, and 5-year-old), they all decided not to like ANY of the Russian athletes. The boys are also currently going through a World War II phase, so they also resolved not to like any athletes from Germany or Italy. It was a little random, but I’ve already decided to like a team based on the color of their uniforms, so I can’t fault them for their choices. Speaking of colors, they will automatically root for anyone sporting an interesting hair color!

We also learned a little bit about geography. One of the more hilarious moments came during one of the background stories on the Kenyan runners. G was not paying close attention to the “boring stuff” and got very excited when they were showing pictures of African wildlife and said that he didn’t know there were lions in Canada.

The boys recently competed in their very first long course swim meet. This means that they swam in the same distance pool that the Olympic athletes did, and they could compare their own actual timesto the gold medalists.

A, in his calculating way, determined that at the current rate that he has been dropping his 200 free time, he may be as fast as Katie Ledecky in about 16 years. A also had a very tough race the very first time that he swam a 200 individual medley. As he watched the tired athletes get out of the pool, some of them rather dejected about their losses, he said, “Boy, do I know how they feel.”

A, who was born with a heart defect, was really excited to watch Cody Miller, particularly as his favorite stroke is also the breast stroke.

It also should be noted that swim coach mom was kicked out of the Olympic viewing party during the first night of competition, because “I talked too much.”

I couldn’t help it, it’s such an amazing teaching opportunity to have the world’s best swimmers, with so many camera views, and repeats in slow motion! In particular, the catch phase of the freestyle is so eloquently demonstrated by these athletes, and it’s such a hard concept to teach, I got fingerprints all over the screen trying to point it out to the kids. After that, I resigned myself to just screaming “GO PHELPS” and “USA” with the rest of them so that they let me stay.

For G, this experience has really thrilled his little jock heart. He has faithfully stayed awake with me every night, no matter what sport was on, but certain ones definitely captured his interest more than others. This is the first time he has really gotten a chance to view all of the different track and field events. He is a huge fan of the “long stick and jump thing” and “the thing where they throw that heavy ball.” That would be the pole vault and the shot put, for those of you that don’t speak G. He has caught on to the whole concept of prelims, semifinals, and finals, and I’m amazed at how well he can track and remember how a certain runner did in a previous heat. He has also delighted in imitating the famous Usain Bolt “stride and smile.”

For E, the Olympics existed for one reason and one reason only, and that was the USA gymnastics team. E, just like her mother, will totally judge a gymnast by how many sparkles she has on her leo. I managed to introduce her to spring board and platform diving and I was happy to see she was intrigued. I have long wondered how her love of gymnastics is going to work out given that she’s on track to be an exceptionally tall girl, and I had (secretly) hoped that maybe she could transfer some of her moves to the diving board. But then, one afternoon, I happened to flip on the TV during synchronized swimming. She was transfixed! I honestly can’t believe that I’ve never thought of it before, but swimming combined with dancing AND sparkly leotards? That’s got her name written all over it!

Overall, I’m so glad to see that our athletes’ class and work ethic have positively influenced my children (I am NOT talking to you, Hope Solo) and that they are inspired to try new things, whether it’s a new sport, or a new food from a different country that they’ve heard about.

I commented that I can’t wait to see what they can accomplish by the time the next Olympics rolls around in four years.

I was immediately informed that the next Olympics will actually be in two years, and they will be the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. My kids already have this down better than I do!

Liz Pinkey is a contributing writer to the Times News. Her column appears weekly in our Saturday feature section.

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