Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Games

I’ve been an Olympic Games fan for as long as I can remember.

Watching the Olympics was a big deal during my childhood. We played Summer Games/Winter Games on our Commodore 64 (check this out for major laughs — that’s gaming 80s style, ladies and gentlemen), and visited the World Figure Skating Museum in Colorado Springs.

We saw the history-making 1996 women’s gymnastics team on their post-Olympics tour. While scandals have unfortunately tainted the Games and the concept of “amateur athletes” has become rather blurry, the Olympics still make enthralling television.

As much as I enjoy the Winter Games, I must say that the Summer Games are my favorite games. There are only so many skiing competitions I can watch before I lose interest. Summer, on the other hand, features an array of the classic favorites (gymnastics, track and field, swimming, diving), and the unusual (fencing, weightlifting, rhythmic gymnastics).

The London games open on July 27; Michael Phelps is poised to become the most decorated Olympian of all time and the U.S. men’s gymnastics team is said to be the strongest one in decades. I am so ready for the London Olympics.

In between cheering for Team USA, I plan to read some of our new Olympics-themed books:

Off Balance: A Memoir - At the age of 14, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the 1996 gold medal winning US women’s gymnastics team. Her swift, daring routines made her a stand-out, while her petite height and spunky personality won over the crowd. Anyone who has read Little Girls in Pretty Boxes or just has some idea of the pressure and hours and hours of practice endured by elite gymnasts knows that ordinary childhoods are rare for these teenage girls. Moceanu’s childhood was no exception, with the addition of a difficult home life. Her memoir sheds light on her troubled childhood, discovering a sister given up for adoption, and her personal and professional achievements in her adulthood.

Flight From Berlin (by David John) - This suspense/thriller set during the 1936 Berlin Olympics received excellent reviews; Olympics-themed fiction is rare, so this will be a treat.

Gold (by Chris Cleave) - Gold takes us into the world of competitive cycling seen through the eyes of two friends and rivals for Olympic gold. This also received great reviews.

Running With the Kenyans - Why do Kenyan runners dominate running competitions? Author Adharanand Finn traveled to Kenya to discover the secrets, training, and motivation of Kenyan runners. Not only is this an exploration of running culture, but it’s also a look into Kenyan society.

I’m also looking forward to Sports Illustrated’s coverage of the Olympics; I am always impressed with the quality of each issue, so I’m confident that their Olympics coverage will be top-notch. ESPN Magazine will undoubtedly also provide coverage of the 2012 Games. You can browse the latest issues at the library (Sports Illustrated is available at the Warrenton Library and ESPN Magazine is available at the Bealeton Library) and check out older editions (can be delivered to any branch).

If you’re stumped by synchronized swimming, confused by curling, or puzzled by the pole vault, you need to have Total Sports at hand during the Olympics. Featuring every Olympic sport (in addition to non-Olympic sports), readers will learn about the traditions, history, rules, and famous athletes in each sport. It’s perfect for the entire family.

Are you ready for the Games? USA! USA! USA! USA!

Jennifer @ Warrenton

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