I donít know what it is about the summer Olympics that, like a thief in the night, catch me off guard every time.
I mean sure we all kind of take a glance to see how America is doing, but what happened to the intriguing story lines or the characters larger than life that grab us.
I know we still believe in having individual heroes because just six years ago, we were awestruck by the Michael Phelpís swim performance.
Are we blinded by the big money sports now?† Are paid athletes the only stories getting our attention?
I remember vividly American gymnast Kerri Strug not only because I witnessed it on television with my mother (who isnít a big sports fan, but even she recognized the moment) in our living room, but because I was unable to turn away.
Strug was an unknown gymnast in 1996 not because she wasnít extremely talented and respected in the gymnastics world, but because her team was already filled with super stars like Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu and Jaycie Phelps.
Strugís story plays out like a movie and probably one day it will be. At the 1996 Olympics in Atlantaís Georgia Dome, America hung onto a thin lead over Russia and it came down to Strug to deliver a vault with a score of 9.493 or better. She had two chances to nail a vault.
In dramatic fashion, Strug not only fell during her first attempt and didnít get the score America needed to secure a gold medal, but unbeknownst to both America and to Strug who simply thought that she had only sprained her ankle, she had also torn two ligaments in her ankle.
Injured, with the hopes of America riding on her shoulders, Strug, on her final attempt, stuck the vault landing on one foot and crumpled to the floor in a heap from her injured ankle. Bťla KŠrolyi, the American gymnastics head coach, carried Strug off the floor as a champion.
With a boot on her ankle, Strug became an Olympic legend that day.
To this day, I canít watch the Rudy and Magnificent 7 documentary about the seven members of the 1996 womenís gymnastics team without getting choked up a little. Moments like these are rare and when they happen, I feel lucky just to have been along for the ride.
I donít think there has to be a story of that proportion every year, but it would be great if there was at least some build up or even some talk about the upcoming games.
Iíd like to see athletes who really participate for the love of the game get some recognition not just because we should care, but because they care enough to put in the work it takes to represent this great nation.