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I Wish I Be Like (Insert Sports Star Name Here)

Did you ever have an idol in some kind of sport growing up?

Mine was Michelle Kwan the figure skater. I didn’t envy her rigorous schedule filled with training and little time for rest but I was amazed when she could do all of the amazing moved effortlessly on ice. I guess I also admired her for her boldness – she dared to go out for the senior level figure skating behind her coach’s back and succeeded. As for me, ice skating is still a long way to go – I haven’t gotten past the stage where you shuffle around the rink and clutch onto the edge for support.

Despite the fact that she is younger than me, I think one of the athletes I admire at the moment is Mckayla Maroney. While she is mainly known for her infamous expression after failing to win gold in the individual vault during the 2012 Olympics, I can’t forget the amazing vaults she performed for the team medals. The commentators mentioned that she managed to achieve a great height for her vaults and had some strong landings, which led to good scores. I used to cringe whenever I watched the US artistic gymnastics team vault back in 1996, especially when Dominique Moceanu fell on both of her vaults on her behind and when Keri Strug was injured in the first vault. The falls looked painful and it seemed like the vault was tricky to simply get over and land without difficulty. For someone like Mckayla to make these vaults look effortless, almost old hat, is amazing in my mind.

Do you have a favorite athlete you admire?

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From 7 to 5, The Most Memorable Women of Gymnastics

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Image from birdwings.tumblr.com

Most of the world has sat glued to their TVs in anticipation of watching athletes from their home countries and elsewhere around the world compete in a variety of sports for gold, silver, and bronze medals.

Women’s Gymnastics has always held a special place in my heart since I was a young 5 year old watching the 1996 Atlanta Olympics for the Women’s Gymnastics team. Naturally, I didn’t know at the time that the US winning gold in women’s gymnastics was so monumental for the sport that Russia and Romania had dominated in. All I knew was that these girls who were in their teens were capable of performing some amazing flips, twists, and tricks on uneven bars, beam, floor, and vault. I must have driven my poor parents nuts with my obsession with these talented 7 gymnasts, since they took me to a special touring event that showcased the skills of these “Magnificent 7” for a huge audience. Heck, I even remember trying to do some mock tuck and roll movements at home, dreaming that I could be as good as they were. (Sadly, I never pursued gymnastics as I got older.)

Fast forward to 2012 and I had only planned to watch swimming events when advertising for the Olympics started. (I missed the 2008 games due to a European music trip and came back too late to watch the events.) Then I heard lots of theories about the American team, possibly being the new “Magnificent 7”: Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, Mckayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, and Jordyn Wieber aka the Fab 5. Oh really? Prove it! I thought after seeing these advertisements. Sure enough, I watched and began rooting for these girls as they performed and overcame nerves and pressure to bring home the first team gold medal ever since 1996.

It feels odd to be older than the Fab 5, all of them except for Aly have never seen the Magnificent 7’s performances. Yet it was a real privilege to be watching history take place.