Olympics pass for another four years

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 14, 2004

After 16 days of Olympic memories being made, I finally had the opportunity to really watch some of it, of course, it was the closing day.

Unlike many, I was unable to take advantage of th 1,200-plus hours offered by NBC and its affiliates, so I watched what I could.

The first thing that got to me about these Olympics was the hype around Michael Phelps.

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I remembering mocking the commentator in a squeaky Bob Costas voice, "Michael Phelps..Michael Phelps," and then I watched the man swim.

I was reminded of the Patrick Duffy show, Man from Atlantis.

I kept expecting someone to discover that Phelps really had some gills somewhere.

When he gave up his spot on the 400 relay so his teammate could experience the joy of winning a gold medal, I knew then that this guy embodied the whole ideal of what the Olympics were meant to be.

Then on Saturday, I found myself rooting for a Canadian diver, who I wanted so badly to win his country's first gold medal. He ended up in fourth place, but was considered a champion nonetheless.

Then there is the sage of Paul Hamm, who was awarded a gold medal, but was then told a scoring error was found and he was told he should give it back.

The controversy became so severe that he and his twin brother Morgan returned to the U.S., skipping the closing ceremonies.

Then there were the stories behind the athletes like the basketball player whose wife and daughter were killed last year in a car accident.

Then just last month his father died unexpectedly.

He played his heart for them.

He said in an interview that all the glory he received was done so in their memory.

From what I watched of the Olympics, I was struck by the beauty of Greece.

It makes me want to travel there and walk where Socrates and Aristotle posed their questions of the day.

I want to see the ruins of our early civilization and ponder what it was like to live in that time.

I want to walk in the footsteps of the Olympians of ages past and I want to sit on the beaches of another continent and ponder life itself.

Yes, the Olympics are over, and the gods of Olympus smiled on Athens once again.

Let's hope that their smiles last for a while for we could all use a little help good fellowship these days.

Jay Thomas is the managing editor of the Greenville Advocate and can be reached by phone at 334-383-9302, ext. 136 or via email at jay.thomas@greenvilleadvocate.com or at P.O. Box 507, Greenville, 36037.