By Guinn Sweet
It sounds like Disraeli, in the mid-1800s, was looking forward to the women’s gymnastic competition of the 2008 Olympic Games, doesn’t it?
As I watched the two young American athletes, Nastia Liukin and Shawn Johnson, perform their gymnastic routines, I wondered if the Greeks on Mount Olympus had even considered that “kids” of their age and gender might ever be Olympians. Having known some Greek men, I am sure that they would have chased me with a stick had I mentioned it so many years ago.
The gold and silver medalists from the USA are the epitome of female athleticism. As they each flew through the air, with such precision and beauty, I could not help but be proud of the gymnasts. And one of them is a Texan!
As Colon and I watched them on the “beam”, jumping and flipping and “splitting,” I said that I could never do anything so special, and he alluded to how any performance of mine would put a new meaning to “splits” if I mounted a beam.
But the young women are not the only “super doers.” Another of those sports in which I never became proficient, or even attained friendly terms, is swimming. Oh, I can swim, or better yet, I can float. I was never able to move around in the water from one spot to another. I couldn’t even do much in the up and down directions because of my natural buoyancy, dictated by the fat content of my body. I tried to swim underwater at one point, and I was told later that my head and feet stayed under the surface, but one of the larger parts of my body remained visible above water.
In fact, I wrote a poem one time about that bodily condition. Two of the lines were “then she fell out of the boat” and “Don’t worry my dear, fat ladies float!”
To get back to the subject of the Olympic Games, I wish there was some way to attach an odometer and speedometer to Michael Phelps’ ankle, so that we might know how far and how fast. I’ll bet that the mileage on my first little car (a 1937 yellow Ford convertible, named George) did not post greater figures.
My favorite sport in the Olympics has to be track and field. I don’t like beach volleyball, I think because of the skimpy “uniform” and sunglasses. I never really cared for “regular” volleyball because it brings back unhappy memories. It was on a high school volleyball court that Betty Jane Shumate told me that she could have dated Colon if she had wanted to (just before I hit her with the volleyball). We went to detention for that.
I never participated in track and field because I couldn’t run or jump very fast or high. My enjoyment comes from sitting and watching.
My own athletic activity, when I was young, was softball. I played third base, and they eventually named it “the hot corner.” I have always thought it was because I played so hard and so well that I worked up a great sweat. I could throw the ball a mile, I could catch it well if it were hit directly toward me, and I was a great batter. The only problem with that was that after I hit the “home run ball” I couldn’t get past first base because the first 20 steps I took were all in place. I dug so many holes between the batter’s box and first base that the grounds-keeper had to work overtime.
My last game was played for my church team (Hampton Place Baptist Church) while I was great with child. I quit because I heard one little kid say to another, “She can’t run, her belly is too big.” I tendered my resignation immediately.
The only athletic activity in which I am involved nowadays is spectating. If there were an Olympic event in that, I would be a gold medal winner every time!
By Guinn Sweet