The Ups and Downs of the Olympics

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Our Eyes Are Misty

The earth is 197 million square miles in surface area with a population of more than 7 billion people. What is the probability that four women would grow up in the same locale with two playing volleyball on the same high school team with the same coach and all four winding up about 20 years later playing for the 2012 Olympic gold medal? Such was the case when Misty May Treanor (NHHS) and Kerry Walsh Jennings beat April Ross (NHHS) and Jen Kessy in the women’s beach volleyball final.

I actually cried on the evening of Aug. 8. Twice. First because of joy that May and Walsh had won the Olympic gold medal for the third consecutive time. The tears came the second time with the realization that this was the last time we would watch our Misty play for gold in the Olympics.

Newport Harbor Coach Dan Glenn got it perfect on NBC News that night when he said that the rest of the world is now seeing what we have known and enjoyed for a long time.

My tag-along personal journey began in the fall of 1991 when my daughter, Jennifer, came home from volleyball practice at NHHS. She told me of this extraordinary new teammate who would start as a freshman.

“That doesn’t seem possible,” I said.

So my wife and I went to a late summer exhibition game to see Misty play. Even then she had the knack for hitting to the open space.

“What do you think now?” asked Jen.

My response, “If she continues to play and doesn’t get hurt she could become the greatest player in the game.”

For once Jen, then a senior, agreed with me. We watched with delight as Misty grew progressively better in high school, college, and beach volleyball tournaments and ultimately reached the 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

Whenever we saw her she would always take the time to run across the court and ask, “How’s Jen?” In person she is one of the most modest athletes around.

After Misty and Kerry’s third win in London, Jen wrote on Facebook that Misty was “always calm under pressure.”

Her army of rooters in Newport Beach is fortunate to have been able to travel along with Misty on her storybook 22-year ride!


Too May ‘Sticks’ to the Landings

Why do we ask gymnasts to “stick” their landings? We don’t ask runners in the sprints (100, 200, and 400 meters) and other events to stop cold at a wall or stick their landings (made more harmful by gravity) with such destructive force. Why is this so important? We watch gymnasts do twists and turns, forward and backward somersaults and all sorts of amazing skills in the air and when it is all over the winner is often determined by who had the best “stick.”

This is a bad idea for two reasons.

First, the best performance may not get the best score.

Second “sticking the landing” is extremely harmful to growing legs, ankles and feet when the bones are not yet fused. For example, in the case of the United States, prior injuries limited the performances of two of our gymnasts. McKayla Maroney broke a great toe and Sam Mikulak fractured both ankles on a landing.

My suggestions for the future are to allow one step on the “stick” to reduce the severe force to the bones. In addition, we could reduce the penalty points for an extra step. If the stick is so important we could have a separate solo “stick” event where the athletes jump from sensible heights.


All You Need Is Love

Certainly this had to be the most loving, hugging and kissing Olympics of all time.

n some events more time was spent doing high fives than playing. Women kissed and hugged and patted the backsides of girls and boys and coaches. The men did the same. It didn’t matter whether you won the point or game or event.

I must admit that in the gymnastic events it was uplifting to see the women of China, Romania, Russia, and the United States congratulate each other on fine performances. There really is hope for the future. Maybe we should put the athletes in charge of our governments.

How about closing the Olympics with medals for best hugging and kissing?

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., Newport Beach, is an ornery curmudgeon who is on the National Advisory Board of the Physician Patient Medical Association and the Legal Advisory Board of California Citizens Against Law Suit Abuse.


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