Athens 2004

Welcome back, Mustangs! And to the class of 2008, welcome!

Summer 2004 has seen many interesting headlines. Martha Stewart
currently serves out her five month prison sentence after which she
will serve five more months under house arrest.

Scott Peterson’s double murder case is still
developing…again.

Gas prices took a significant hike (need I say more?).

And both President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry have
hit the road to campaign across the country.

But nothing has the world’s attention like our athletes
currently competing under the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens,
Greece.

After seven years, the U.S. men’s swim team beat out Ian
Thorpe and the Aussies in the 4 x 200m free style relay race for
the gold on Tuesday. I recall about 20 Asians huddled around one
television cheering right as Klete Keller barely touched the wall
right before Thorpedo. It was brilliant.

Also, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team took silver to the
Romanian women. In a way, I was glad for Romania. Following the
scandals of their 2000 Sydney team, Romania won the gold and
regained the honor for their country.

But all was not lost. After falling on the edge of a table
during his vault, Paul Hamm became the first U.S. man to win
Olympic gold for men’s gymnastics on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports that his 0.012 margin of victory is
the closest in men’s Olympic history. South Koreans Kim
Dae-eun and Yang Tae-young took silver and bronze respectively.

In watching the Olympics on and off for the past couple of days,
I was surprised to learn that SMU has 15 alumni and current
students competing in Athens. Seven women and two men are competing
in swimming while one woman and five men are in track and
field.

I watch these athletes compete and am amazed at how much time
and energy it takes to prepare, some for four years and others a
lifetime, for one shot at gold and a dream fulfilled.

On Saturday, as friends and I watched the Chinese and Japanese
gymnasts during the men’s team qualifying matches, I spoke
with a friend’s father who is a pastor at a Chinese church in
Richardson.

He said that in China, athletes are chosen as children. From the
time they can walk all the way to high school, these children are
rigorously trained in every aspect of the sport they are in, from
gymnastics to all the martial arts, including weapons training.

After high school, athletes go on to specialized schools and
universities specifically for their sport. No liberal arts courses.
No distractions.

I understand the Japanese are hailed for a heritage very
similar, which most likely factored into their victory in the
men’s gymnastics team finals on Monday.

Such discipline is honed at an early age, and such a life is
dedicated to one craft alone.

This dedication is perhaps one of things we most admire about
the spirit of the Olympic athletes. It is why we would even
postpone world wars to gather together as a human race once every
four years and watch.

So, to SMU’s 15, you may not be representing the same
country that I live in, but nonetheless I salute you. For all your
hard work and determination, I salute you. And hopefully,
I’ll see you up close and personal in Beijing in 2008.

Schedules and pictures of our Mustang Olympians can be found on
the athletics website at www.smumustangs.com. Official coverage in
Dallas of the Olympics is NBC Channel 5.

 

Christine Dao is a senior journalism major and a columnist
for The Daily Campus. She may be reached at [email protected]

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