Ringing in 2012 was especially exciting, not for the extra day we gain during this Leap Year, or even the highly-anticipated presidential campaign. This is once again a Summer Olympic year, four years in the waiting.
Already the advertising campaigns are underway, including swimmer Michael Phelps joining fellow Olympians as spokespeople for Subway restaurants. Soon car companies, fast food restaurants, and clothing lines will join the long list of global industries that support and hope to capitalize on the Olympic spirit.
Throughout the next six months, many of the best athletes in the world will be tested to the limit, hoping that their years of hard work will pay off, and decades of dreams will come to fruition with the opportunity to represent their countries in London.
From all corners of the globe, these dedicated athletes will descend upon the U.K. anxious to join in the friendly international competition that is the Olympic Games. And it's not too early to start getting excited about it.
Today's athletes may not be the true amateurs who competed in the Olympics of decades past, but there is added excitement to the modern games, and assembling the very best the world has to offer. While the 1992 USA men's basketball squad is considered the original "Dream Team," every sport in every country assembles their own dream contingents. These best-of-the-best come together and not only do battle for medals and prestige, but also elevate their sports to new heights. Personal bests and world records will be shattered, creating new goals for the most elite competitors.
As the Games draw closer, we'll turn our attention back to sports we may put on the back burner for four years at a time: beach volleyball, swimming, decathlon and others. Somehow when gold is the ultimate prize, the interest in these events skyrocket.
Young people around the globe are exposed to new passions, stories behind the athletes put their struggles and accomplishments into perspective, and contenders who are now mere mentions in the back of the newspaper become household names, and may even grace boxes of Wheaties.
For fans following the Olympics, including the many trials over the next few months, the experience will be heightened. Not only has HDTV become a household standard, social media like Facebook and Twitter have exploded since the last Summer Games. Athletes themselves can be Liked, their Tweets followed, in many ways taking viewers closer to the sports than ever before, even from the other side of the world. And it's already underway.
England promises to be a wonderful host, combining the country's proud history with the renaissance of the new and modern Royals.
But at the end of the day, the moments that will stay with us will be of the athletes who overcame dramatic obstacles, exceeded expectations, and captured the imaginations of their country and the world.
It just can't get here soon enough.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at Kellie@BedfordCountyChamber.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.