Do you remember back in the 80s (I think it was '88) when that black girl was skating for the US - Debi something? Debi Thomas? - and she ended up taking the bronze medal instead of gold and she cried and ripped the medal off during the ceremony and just generally acted like a snotty bitch?
**Edited to add - Sorry! I am wrong...apparantly Debi Thomas handled her loss with grace. My memory is wrong. Thanks Karen, it was indeed Surya Bonaly who pulled off her medal. Like a little booger. :)
Fast forward to 2006, and Irina Slutskaya wins the bronze medal - at the highest, most important competitive event in the world - and though she held it together during the medal ceremony (only crying a little bit while the Japanese national anthem played), it was reported that she subsequenly chucked her bronze into her locker in a snit.
Dude. How many of those girls - Silvia Fontana of Italy, Tugba what's-her-name from Turkey, Poykio, Hughes, Rochette - would give their freaking right arm just to get on the medal podium? I'm sure many of you were moved, as I was, by Tugba's story of her family's sacrifice and hardship to get her to Torino. Neither of her parents were even there to watch her. Her mother didn't even get to see her skate on TV because she had to be at work! So many of these girls give up everything, and their families give up everything, to get them to the Olympics. And Slutskaya, who is no slouch and has enough medals and championships under her belt that she should be very, very proud and satisfied, acts like getting the bronze medal is a slap in the face.
At least Sasha Cohen had the good sense to say she felt the silver medal was "a gift" because she biffed and she knew it. Many other girls skated technically cleaner programs than she did, but they are going home with nothing.
I was a competitive athlete in my teens, and I knew that sometimes I'd be first, sometimes I'd be third, sometimes I'd be dead last. But I always did the best I could and I was always proud of myself and my teammates. As an adult I'm in awe of these Olympians who are capable of such artistry and athleticism. I can barely stand up on a pair of skates. And the thing is, there is a whole generation of young girls gazing up at these champions with absolute reverance. I want my daughter to aim high in her life and attempt whatever she desires, but I want her to do it with a good sportsmanlike attitude and with pride in herself and her accomplishments. And I will be so proud of her, whether she is first, last, or somewhere in between.