I wrote at the beginning of the 2014 Olympics that I did not think I could do it. I did not think I could enjoy the 2014 games particularly because of its location, Russia. I was wrong.
I stand corrected.
Excusing the hotel conditions, as well as some Olympic practicing areas, it is very clear that Russia truly took the responsibility of hosting these winter games seriously. I had to remind myself, they are not American and I am not Russian. So to expect things to be done in a particularly certain way, was ignorant on my part.
I was very nervous for the USA Olympians especially, given the USA’s history with Russia. I needn’t have worried. Truthfully, I did not worry for long. Sochi, Russia went out of it’s way…in a BIG WAY to make all countries participants feel welcomed. And ended it with a sense of humor that made me inexplicably happy.
And now, as I watch the closing ceremony (while I write this to you), I see such heart in the Russian Olympians and spectators alike. I am moved to tears in a way that I think only people of around my age and older would be. I remember the old USSR. I remember being a teen and terrified Russia was going to obliterate our country. I remember having a hard time falling asleep some nights. Fast forward 20 years and while we may not be all warm and fuzzy politically, we have come together for these Olympic games as one human spirit.
The Olympics are a world-wide competition; a finale of sorts, proving each country’s best. I also see people, from all walks of life…coming together. They smile and laugh together, even if they are unsure of what is being said. It has been a wonderful sight to see.
I have thoroughly enjoyed it all. And I hope you have too. I watched far more of this years Olympics than ever before because it was truly engaging. It was amazing to see our countrymen in a part of the world that, at one time, it was impossible to believe we would ever be welcomed in. I almost feel as though I know the athletes. So much was shared about their stories. It made winning (and losing) that much more personal.
I am so glad I gave these Olympics a chance. I hope and pray that as these Olympics come to a close, leaders around the world have taken notice as to just how affective we can be if we just work together.
Thank you Russia, for a fantastic 2 weeks. I have enjoyed every minute of it…even if it was only from my sofa in sunny Miami.