Showing posts from 2020

The Para-Athlete Movement

Note: I am writing this as a "short" writing example for some students that I am substitute teaching this week. But the subject has been on my mind!

The fall of my freshman year of high school, one of my classmates was in a car accident and lost the ability to use her legs. She returned to school a few months later in a wheelchair, and our class rallied around her. She was exactly like she had been before the accident - the only difference was that she was wheeling around the buildings. Adjustments needed to be made so that she could do things just like the rest of us, and I don't think anyone minded. She was in our touring choir, so either the churches needed to be handicap accessible or some of our stronger seniors carried her around. When we had end-of-semester concerts and graduations in the gym, the stage that was set up now needed a ramp. When it came to parties, chapel, classes, or even attending the football games, everyone made sure she could be included. As a re…

Track and Field Returns: Observations from Two Meets

Well I made a determination that I would start posting every week starting in 2021, so it's kind of a fluke that I'm posting just a week after my triumphant return. But we had not one, but two athletics competitions in Europe this week, so I feel compelled to share my joy of watching both those meets. The first meet was the Paavo Nurmi Games, held in Finland on Tuesday. For all intents and purposes, the meet looked like a regular meet. Masks were not required by fans (and there were fans in the small stadium) and all the competitions went ahead as planned. There were throwing, jumping, and running events. The setup of the field looked like usual, too. Finland has very few cases of COVID-19 at the moment, so their risk levels are quite low compared to the rest of mainland Europe. (You might wonder why I'm mentioning these things. Stay tuned for the Diamond League information, and you'll know why.)Since the meet was a World Athletics (the name of the official governing b…

Let's Do This All Over Again

As C-3PO so eloquently stated in Return of the Jedi...
As of the time of this posting, we are on the date where the Closing Ceremonies for Tokyo 2020 should have happened. I'm supposed to be finishing up a tour of Japan this week. 
Instead, I'm here at home, trying to avoid people as best as I can, and wearing masks and socially distancing myself when I can't. 
Oddly enough, the past two weeks have been pretty okay! I haven't suddenly gone into a depression spiral because this was supposed to be the time when I was going to be in attendance of the greatest sporting events in history (or at least the past two years). I think what really helped was that everyone was dealing with this - not just me. I wasn't the only one left out. There was no FOMO because I wasn't missing out on anything! 
Reading articles of athletes who have adjusted their training and watching videos of Tokyo's new plans have helped out a lot. It's clear that the world is in this together…

Postponement: Who wins?

Nobody wins. Everybody loses.

Just a couple of hours ago, it was officially announced that the Olympics would be postponed "beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021." This comes after a few days of heated pressure by countries' Olympic committees and official sporting bodies to have the IOC change the date of the Games.

It was never going to be a win. This virus that has shut down most of the world means that everybody loses.

Athletes who want to train? They lost.

Coaches and officials? They lost.

Spectators who planned their trips (like me)? They lost.

People who looked to profit from the tourism boom? They lost.

Organizing officials? They lost.

Nobody wins. Everybody loses.

It is immensely frustrating to see this all take place, but it could be worse. The word cancellation came up so frequently that I had to stop reading social media again. Athletes and content creators make click-bait videos or articles with big words on their feeds: "CANCEL THE OLYMPICS?"…

Little-Known Olympics Videos

Everyone watches the 4x100 meter freestyle swimming relay race from the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Everyone watches the Miracle on Ice from Lake Placid 1980.

Everyone doesn't watch the handball final from Munich 1972.

This week I have been very busy with my day job, so haven't had a whole lot of time for other things. However, I have made it a point to go onto YouTube and search some not-so-well-known videos from Olympics of the past. And boy, YouTube sure has a lot of those!

Here are some of my favorites:

The Official Film of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics

Basically this official video treats all sporting events that aren't track and field like utter garbage.'s like I made the video! Well, it's like I pushed every other event out of the way, forcing them to tiny montages instead of large profiles. I would not have written a script with such sexist comments! Here's a paraphrase: "Look at these lovely ladies doing some shopping, to make themselves lo…

Lighting the Flame (Literally)

This last Thursday I woke up at 5:15 in the morning to watch the lighting of the Olympic flame. Unlike the lighting in 2017 for the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, the day was bright, sunny, and absolutely beautiful. (I don't know if the Olympic Channel meant to do this, but I could especially hear the birds singing.)

Here is a live blog of me watching it. If you want to watch it yourself, you can watch it here:

(The most relevant parts of the ceremony are at 53:00 and 1:10:00, if you are short on time. But I would try to watch all of it if you can!)

5:20 a.m. The small delegation of people invited for this event make their way to the grounds. I first noticed IOC President Thomas Bach, and he's looking pretty cheerful! There's also a contingent of the Presidential guard in their formal garb.

5:22 a.m. I am glad there is live commentary - the OBS does a nice job of explaining things without being annoying. (A reason I'm not watching NBC's stream.) She let us know th…

I'm Not Going to Talk About It

I'm not going to talk about it.

Nope! Not gonna do it.

I'm not going to talk about the frustrations that have come the past two weeks over a trip to Japan that probably will happen but everyone on the Internet surmises won't happen.

I really don't want to talk about the trip planning that I've done ahead of time - something that brought me so much joy and excitement back in January and early February - that now makes me super anxious. (Why did I plan so much ahead of time?)

I could instead talk about the fact that last Sunday I accidentally tweeted out a link to (supposedly) a second week covering Olympic handball, but instead was Part 3 of my Light the Cauldron series. Sorry about that!

But how was I to know? I haven't been on my Light the Cauldron Twitter page all week. When all of the people I follow started to talk about it and how it might affect the Olympics, I couldn't take it anymore. One person questioning the Olympics taking place makes me think,…

A History of Lighting the Cauldron: Part 3

Tokyo. Mexico City. Munich.

Part 3 of our "Lighting the Olympic Cauldron" series takes us to two countries recovering from world war defeat and another in the midst of its own revolution.

Tokyo 1964: You'll Hear More About This One in Five Months

This was the first Olympics to be held in Asia, so the torch relay spanned many Asian countries, including India, Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan before getting to Japan. (China still was not participating in the Olympic Games, and thus was not involved in the torch relay. However, Hong Kong, which was still under British rule, did have the torch go through.)

The cauldron for this Games was built six years beforehand by a Japanese family, Mannosuke Suzuki and his son, Bungo. The reason it was constructed so early was because it was also used in 1958 for the Asian Games, so it's different from the ultra secrecy that the cauldron reveal now possesses.

It was a large metal cone of just over two meters hig…

Spotlight: Handball

I really enjoyed presenting my Olympics plans to my students this week! I would have been happy to show you pictures of the fun...but no one took them. Ah, well.

In the presentation, I showed students the events I was going to see. Many of them piqued their interest, but a couple of them resulted in confused looks. One was 3x3 basketball, which they didn't realize even existed as a real sport. And the second was handball!

This was the picture I showed in my presentation:

It doesn't show very much, but this is a sport I definitely know the kids were not familiar with! What's the point? How many players? What does the court look like? What is he throwing the ball at?

The Rules

Basically, handball is a mix of soccer (football) and basketball. The court is larger than a basketball court, but has the same layout with a center line and arcs on either side. However, the goals are similar to soccer goals, but smaller. Like hockey, players can come on and off the court without goin…

Find Your Olympians!

I sit, once again, watching the US Track and Field Indoor Championships, wishing I could be there to cheer them on.

It seems to me like all the competitions I'd like to attend are either 1) too far away, 2) too expensive, or 3) sold out. It is a big bummer.

Last year, I was lucky enough to go to two national championships in Michigan. This year, I don't seem to be as lucky finding competitions near me.

So when competitions escape me, I need to find the competitions!

This weekend, two top-tier men's collegiate gymnastics teams competed in Ann Arbor, and I was fortunate enough to be in the area. While it's not a major event in Olympic sports, this is the next best thing.

The event was free, which meant that both my parents also came along with me. Sometimes the gymnastics competitions are in the Crisler Center, but since the men's basketball team has a game tomorrow, they used their primary facility that has far fewer seats - Cliff Keen Arena.

The University of Mich…

The Tokyo Ticket Addiction: A Tokyo Prep February Update

I have a problem, guys.

CoSport keeps dropping tickets, and I keep browsing.

And then...I buy...?

Let's face it: attending an Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I know that LA2028 is eight years away, but who knows where I'm going to be in my life? Maybe I'll be married with children!

(Ha. I just made myself laugh. Moving on.)

Regardless of what the future has for me in 2028 (and no, going to Beijing, Paris, or Milan/Cortina is not happening), I have plane tickets booked for three weeks in Japan, and I'm going to take advantage of it.

One year ago, I was terrified that I wouldn't be able to buy any tickets. Now, I have no worries! Well, maybe one: that I spend too much money.

This past Thursday CoSport did another big drop of tickets, and I make it a routine to get into the queue. It's a randomized lineup, so I ended up 1000 people behind. That's a nice thing because it basically told me I wouldn't get the Big Ticket Events.

(Big Ticket Even…

A History of Lighting the Cauldron: Part 2

Helsinki. Melbourne. Rome.

These are the three Olympics we'll be covering today in our monthly "Light the Cauldron" series.

Helsinki 1952: The Cauldron Gets Some Style

While the cauldron in 1948 was pretty similar to Berlin's cauldron of twelve years earlier, Helsinki 1952 brought class to the cauldron that was at field level. There was a bowl on five thin legs that was lit by Paavo Nurmi. Nurmi won numerous gold medals in the 1920s in distance running for Finland and lit the lower cauldron. Then he passed it on to four Finnish soccer players that relayed it to the top of the Helsinki stadium, where the larger cauldron was lit by Hannes Kolehmainen, another multi-gold-medalist.

This was the first Olympics where the flame was carried via airplane and horseback. To avoid taking the flame through the Soviet Union (which was still not a prominent Olympic force for another few years), it was flown to Copenhagen and then actually moved north to the Arctic Circle before goi…

Tokyo 2020 Prep: Touring Outside Tokyo

The Olympics are the main goal of my trip to Tokyo in less than six months. (!!!!) Last weekend, I spent some time filling my calendar with all the stuff I've already accomplished for the trip, including airline reservations, hotel reservations, and sporting events.

After I filled it out, I realized I have a few holes! I have two nights near the beginning of my trip that I still need to find a place to the entire third week. (Surprisingly, I don't have holes in my Olympic events. Tell my 2018 self that fact and she'd be shocked!)

When I booked my airline reservations, I spent a lot of time trying out a bunch of combinations of times to travel as well as places from which to commute. In the end, I went with a three week itinerary because it was the cheapest way to maximize my time but still be in Japan for the entire two weeks of the Olympics.

That means that after my final event (which is on Day 16), I need to find something to do!

I'm guessing that most p…

Tokyo 2020 Prep: News Updates and Watchlist 1

The weather might be cold outside for those of us in the northern hemisphere, but the preparation for the Olympic Games are heating up!

(Get it? Heat? Tokyo will be hot? All the news media is talking about it? Never mind.)

This week brought up a few Tokyo 2020 items for which we can get excited! First of all, the design for the Olympic and Paralympic tickets were unveiled. The pictogram for the specific event is at the front, and the background colors are based on the Japanese color scheme kasane no irome, which was used for fabrication of kimonos  in the eighth through twelfth centuries. 

I personally really like the color scheme, and appreciate that the pictograms are found on there. After all, pictograms didn’t exist at the Olympics until Tokyo 1964!

Yesterday, the large Olympic rings (famous for highlight reels) were floated to their resting spot in Odaiba, a man-made island in Tokyo. Next Friday Tokyo plans to do a fireworks show to celebrate the rings and also get everyone excited t…