Sports

SIDELINES: The Olympic Dream permeated through dive trials in Federal Way

The Olympic Dream is a powerful thing.

It’s something that Pierre de Coubertin envisioned when the Frenchman started the Modern Olympic Movement in the early 20th century. de Coubertin came up with a set of universal principles, or values, that he wanted to encompass the Olympic Games — respect, excellence and friendship. The values were intended to apply to all competing athletes but eventually permeate into society and education.

The dream of de Coubertin was alive and kicking last week inside the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. I saw it with my own two eyes at the 2012 United States Olympic Team Trials — Diving.

In total, 11 men and women punched their tickets to wear the red, white and blue at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. An accomplishment that had to be so very satisfying.

Divers are a lot different than other athletes who will be making their way to London in August. They really toil in anonymity during their entire careers, minus a couple days every four years.

As an Olympic-caliber diver, you are basically in the “spotlight” during the Summer Games. It’s not like professional athletes in Major League Baseball, the NFL or NBA. It’s not even comparable to other “Olympic” sports like track and field, beach volleyball or swimming, which actually have nationally-televised “seasons” and athletes who have become millionaires.

Ever heard of Usain Bolt, Misty May or Michael Phelps? They have all been featured in national advertising campaigns for major companies.

Quite different from the athletes walking around the King County Aquatic Center during the diving trials. I, as a pretty hardcore sports fan, hadn’t heard of any of the athletes who were in Federal Way.

That even goes for Troy Dumais, who qualified for his fourth trip to the Summer Olympic Games, joining the legendary Greg Louganis as the only U.S. diver to accomplish the four-peat.

“Four Olympics is a phenomenal feat. It’s nice going to four Olympics, but it’s even nicer working your tail off and reaching your dreams and goals,” said the 32-year-old Dumais, who also qualified for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Games.

The 11 tickets handed out to London last weekend in Federal Way went to athletes who basically toil in anonymity for one shot in the proverbial spotlight ever four years.

The amount of hours spent training for a shot at performing on the big-stage of the Olympic Games is mind-boggling. Practicing for hours every single day with one shot every four years to accomplish the goal of competing in the Olympics is something I can’t wrap my head around.

Just think of the pressure felt by those divers? It has to be suffocating to stand 30-feet in the air on a platform knowing that if you over-rotate a dive by an inch, that the one thing you’ve been waking up every morning thinking about is over?

It’s sports at its best.

I’ll admit that I could care less about sports like diving, swimming, track and field, equestrian, gymnastics, etc, etc. But there’s something special about the Olympic Games.

It’s something I can’t take my eyes off. I guess it’s things like national pride, hearing about the unlikely stories about the athletes’ journeys to the Olympics, seeing that hard work does pay off and learning about world geography and seeing obscure sports.

But the Summer Olympics are must-see TV.

That Olympic-esque emotion was more than real inside the King County Aquatic Center all weekend.

Just ask Brittany Viola’s mother, Kathy. After Viola won the final event of the week-long dive trials, the 10-meter platform, her mom broke down in tears, hands shaking like a leaf in the wind at the thought of her daughter competing in the Summer Olympic Games.

It’s the kind of emotion that comes with knowing that this was essentially her last chance of qualifying for the Olympics. This was Viola’s third, and most likely, final attempt of making the U.S. Olympic Team.

She barely missed a trip to Beijing, finishing fourth in 2008 and also failed to qualify for the 2004 games in Athens.

The Olympic Dream is a powerful thing.

 

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