Some scattered observations while trying to cram 60-plus hours of televised Olympic coverage into 18 waking hours a day.
I loved the Opening Ceremonies, from the salute to the host country's history, to the humor of the "Queen" jumping out of a helicopter; it's a dream to have David Beckham and James Bond in the same show, not to mention Paul McCartney.
But my favorite part is still seeing the delegations of athletes entering the stadium, capturing the ceremonies on video from their unique vantage point, and updating their Facebook and Twitter accounts while parading behind their home flags.
For all of the fireworks and special effects, the billions of dollars in building the venues and the thousands of hours spent training for the games around the world, the Olympics are ultimately a showcase of sport and the human spirit in an arena of peace. That is something to celebrate.
Watching tiny delegations of athletes from war-ravaged or third-world countries is a reminder of how truly lucky we are to live in America.
Olympic pride can extend far beyond our home nation. If you watch some of the cycling events, you just might catch a glimpse of world-class bikes with Pennsylvanian ties. CSG, or Cycling Sports Group, located in Bedford boasts a fleet of bicycles in the games being used by athletes from around the globe. In addition to the U.S., athletes from Chile, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, Germany and Belgium will compete on Cannondale bikes assembled in Bedford, as well as GT bikes, also owned by CSG.
Bob Octavio, CSG Controller said, "The Olympics are the ultimate test of an athlete's abilities in their sport. We are honored to be able to support our incredible athletes from around the world with the best bikes in the world as they go for the gold on the road and mountain."
The Olympic Games also provide magnified examples of the lessons of character learned through athletics. There is no "next year" or "next season" in the Olympics. Redemption can be a four-year wait at best.
That's what makes the story of U.S. gymnast and reigning World Champion, Jordyn Weiber even more heartbreaking. Weiber missed her chance at the All-Around competition because of the two-athletes-per-country rule. She finished fourth overall in qualifiers, but behind a pair of fellow Americans. Fighting through tears she described her struggle: wanting to be happy for her teammates through heartbroken herself.
Overcoming that tremendous disappointment will not be easy, but Weiber will be key to the U.S. hopes for team gold. Rising to that challenge, both physically and emotionally will be the mark of a true champion, and an inspiration to many.
Perhaps one of the greatest things about the Olympics is the opportunity to appreciate the diversity of the world's athletics, and to have a once-in-four-years-reason to watch sports like beach volleyball, competitive canoeing, table tennis, badminton, shooting and synchronized swimming.
If they could somehow just toss in a little more Beckham and Bond, the games would be perfect.
Kellie Goodman Shaffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears on Tuesdays.