Saturday, August 23, 2008

Beijing 2008: One for the Ages

The 29th Olympic Games in Beijing is winding down and will be over in less than 24 hours. The show and the competition China has put on for the world has been amazing. For all the controversy that was expected- from politics to culture to weather- the games have gone on near flawlessly and China deserves big kudos. It has indeed been a game for the ages.

Speaking of ages, literally speaking this time, the Beijing Olympics have brought into focus what a well trained human body can achieve whether young or old. The Olympic Games are intended to be a gathering for the “youth of the world” as the opening and closing acclamations suggest. China appears to have taken this to a new level by supposedly
fielding underage gymnasts that have not reached the minimum age of 16. China’s divers also look young enough to need a chaperon’s supervision outside the home. Still, it is impressive to see that skills can be so perfected at a young age and executed perfectly on the grandest of all stages.

On the other end of the age spectrum, we watched the 41 year old American
Dara Torres nearly get the gold in the 50M free style- a SPRINT and not endurance event. The 38 year old Constantina Tomescu ran away from a loaded field to win the women’s marathon. In the past Ethiopia’s own Mamo Wolde won a Bronze Medal in the 1972 Munich Olympic at the age of 40!

As we near the end of the Beijing Games with the highly anticipated men’s marathon yet to be run, another ageless wonder waits to compete with no fanfare surrounding his presence. He is an Ethiopian by birth but runs for Israel. He is 53 years old (or 48 depending on who you ask). He finished the Athens Olympic Marathon in a very respectable 20th place. He is back at the Olympics as one of the oldest athletes competing in Beijing. His name is Haile Satatyin and he is an Olympian for the ages.

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