The wait’s over as Olympics begin in BeijingFor the past week, I’ve waited patiently for the Olympics to begin. Tonight, with the opening ceremonies beginning in Beijing, that wait will be over.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
For the past week, I’ve waited patiently for the Olympics to begin. Tonight, with the opening ceremonies beginning in Beijing, that wait will be over.
While I love watching Olympic basketball and track and field, I believe my true enjoyment of the games – and this is for reasons I can’t explain – comes from finding myself completely engrossed in the wonder of the athleticism displayed by the world’s top gymnasts and swimmers when gold medals are on the line.
For those in southwest North Dakota, and Dickinson in particular, we have at two stars to keep our eyes on in the coming weeks.
Former Dickinson State standout Derrick Atkins enters his first Olympics with a chance to become a gold medalist in the 100-meter dash and Blue Hawks senior Ramon Miller, although currently an alternate, could see the track as a member of the Bahamas 1,600-meter relay team.
Atkins and Miller’s presence at the Olympics proves how truly surreal the Olympics are. Ordinary people, those you could see any day, are competing for their
country on the world’s biggest stage.
Aside from the threats of smog and radical groups, Beijing is now where we turn our attention.
In the next two weeks dreams will be captured and dashed, heroes will prove themselves worthy beneath the spotlight and countries will leave their differences at the doorstep as the world watches our greatest athletes compete for one common goal.
Who and what to watch at the Olympics:
** The 100-meter dash: Aside from Atkins having a legitimate shot at the medal stand, this could be one of the most entertaining 10-second races in history. With the Jamaican phenom Usain Bolt and the steady Asafa Powell running alongside Atkins and with American stars Tyson Gay and Walter Dix in the mix, it’s bound to be one heck of a fight for the gold medal.
** Becky Hammon and Brian Beaman: With no North Dakota-born athletes in the Olympics, we must look to our South Dakota neighbors if we want to provide hometown support. Beaman, a farmer from Selby, S.D., is mostly under the radar, competing in the 10-meter air pistol shooting. Hammon, meanwhile, has an international spotlight on her. She’s a Rapid City native who is playing for the Russian woman’s basketball team.
** The ‘Redeem Team’: Yes, the U.S. men’s basketball team is seriously being called that. With LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Chris Paul in tow to make sure the U.S. plays like a team, the Americans could either coast to a gold medal or, once again, flail down the stretch and get upset by a country whose team has one or no NBA players. If that happens, it will probably be because the U.S. shot about 25 percent from the field and had five assists in the game and the other team shot the lights out and played team basketball.
** Michael Phelps’ shot at immortality: The U.S. swimmer has a chance to win eight gold medals – which would better Mark Spitz’s haul of seven in 1972 and improve on his six gold and two bronze showing at the Athens Olymics in 2004 – and shake any notion that he is, at age 23, America’s best swimmer ever.
** Dana Torres: The U.S. swimmer is staking her claim as the fittest 41-year-old woman in the world. Torres has defied the odds by swimming her way to her fifth Olympic appearance. While she’s already bagged nine medals, she’s gunning for a 10th in the 100-meter freestyle.
** Breaux Greer’s hair: The women love him; the men want to be him; the hairstylists drool over him. All coifs aside, Greer is a good story. The U.S. javelin thrower is an invited participant by the American team after failing to qualify at the Olympic trials. He’s also a proven winner who is looking to rebound after a devastating 12th-place finish at Athens.
Monke is the sports editor of The Dickinson Press. He can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and his blog can be read at www.areavoices.com/monke.