Mormon Olympic Dreams 2008

Happy Olympics! Today marks the grand opening of the 29th Olympiad. Beijing China welcomes the world with their slogan “One World, One Dream” (love it!). You can check out the Official Site For Photos and Live Feed. Or, read Bob’s great day-to-day Beijing blog.

I love the Olympics, both summer and winter. When I was young, and obsessed with horses, I couldn’t wait to watch the equestrian events. And, I have forever remained captivated by the artistic creativity and courage involved in an ice-skating event. I also have my own Olympic moment.
Click to Listen: “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” – by John Williams with the Boston Pops Orchestra

When my hometown welcomed the world for the 2002 Winter Olympics, I had the amazing opportunity to bask first hand in the spirit of the games. Prior to the opening ceremonies, the torch relay was scheduled to come right down the street in front of my house! 2002 Olympic Torch RelayOn that special night, we gently coaxed our 90 year old neighbor Pauline Campbell to leave her warm house and join us to watch the torch pass. 
It was a chilly evening, so we all bundled up, and then waited near the curb with the rest of the expectant

crowd. As it happened to turn out, the current torch bearer was going to make his hand-off right there in front of us! The protocol is that after the torch bearer runs his/her honorary mile, they light the next bearer’s torch to keep the eternal flame going.
Then, the runner gets to keep the actual torch they carried. So, we watched this historic moment happen right in front of us. Unexpectedly, the torch man (a complete stranger) turned to little Pauline, and asked her if she would like to hold the torch.
Pauline Campbell and Olympic Torchbearer

Pauline Campbell and Olympic Torchbearer

Her eyes just shone! She gingerly cradled the torch, and said “Now this is really something – I think I can die and certainly say I’ve done it all, now!”
The onlookers all laughed, and clapped.
Pauline poses with Torch Bearer

Pauline poses with Torch Bearer

It was one of those brilliant, heartwarming, lump-in-the-throat moments I will treasure forever. If I was asked to sit on the blue couch in the flick “Let it Out“, that would be my personal Olympic experience I would share.
There’s just nothing quite like the Olympics! It’s like Christmas. We experience a  marvelous time when the world pauses, comes together, and unites in peace and goodwill. During the Olympic media coverage I particularly enjoy watching and reading the stories of the athletes. Invariably, they have each overcome great odds to be there, and the stories are always so inspiring.
Mehbooba Ahadyar, the only woman from Afghanistan participating in 2008 Olympics

Mehbooba Ahadyar, the only woman from Afghanistan participating in 2008 Olympics

In the true spirit of the games, (and the theme of my blog), I thought I would share a little about the Mormon athletes who will be participating this time around in Beijing. The most current report from Mormon Times lists 17 as the total. The following story comes directly from this weeks’ LDS Newsroom. I have added links and additional photos.

SALT LAKE CITY 6 August 2008 (LDS Newsroom)
When 12-year-old Melanie Roach told her family that one day she would compete at the Olympics, no one really doubted her, according to her mother, Bonnie Kozoff, as reported in the Tacoma News Tribune.

Dan and Melanie Roach Family

Dan and Melanie Roach Family

Melanie Roach

In addition to raising her three children, Ethan, 7, Drew, 5, and Cami, 3, she supports her politician husband, Dan, runs a gymnasium center and advocates for Autism Speaks. Her son Drew was diagnosed with autism in 2003.
Roach is a Mormon and will join a number of other members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Beijing to compete at the 2008 Olympics Games.
Josh McAdams

Josh McAdams

Fellow Latter-day Saint and steeplechase athlete on the United States Olympic team, Josh McAdams, credits his missionary experience as a turning point in his athletic career and his life.
He told The Plain Dealer, “I thought running was everything my freshman year in college, and if I had a bad workout, that affected my attitude and mood the whole day.”
The Plain Dealer report continues, “That was in 2000, and later that year, he left Brigham Young University for a two-year Mormon mission in Thailand.”
“When I came back from my mission, I realized I had life goals and more of a perspective, and I knew what values I have and what is most important in my life. I have learned not to limit yourself,” he told the newspaper.

Lacey Nymeyer

Lacey Nymeyer

Other Latter-day Saint Olympians on the U.S. team include Lacey Nymeyer, 100-meter freestyle and 4 x 100-meter freestyle relay;

Ryan Miller

Ryan Miller

Ryan Millar and Rich Lambourne, volleyball;

Rich Lambourne

Rich Lambourne

Jake Gibb

Jake Gibb

Jake Gibb, beach volley-ball

Tairia Flowers, Softball

Taira Flowers, Softball

Tairia Flowers, softball.
Jill Camarena

Jill Camarena

 
 
Jill Camarena, who recently underwent surgery for a herniated disc, will compete in the women’s shot put.
Nik Arrhenius - Sweden, Discus

Nik Arrhenius - Sweden, Discus

 
 
Niklas Arrhenius, who will represent the Swedish national team in the discus, is one of several Mormon athletes from around the world.
Lindsey Andersen

Lindsey Andersen

Steeplechase competitor Lindsey Anderson says the Church’s health code — which advises against the use of alcohol, tobacco and other harmful substances — helps her to stay away from drugs and to run her best.

Peter Vidmar 1984

Peter Vidmar 1984

Anderson’s philosophy is shared by many other Mormon Olympians, past and present. 
Peter Vidmar, who won a gold medal as a member of the United States gymnastics team in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles as well as an individual gold medal on the pommel horse, where he scored a perfect 10, explained in a book titled Why I Believe

“I never experimented with drugs or alcohol. As an athlete I valued my health, but more important, my faith taught me to avoid all of those things.”

5 thoughts on “Mormon Olympic Dreams 2008

  1. Pingback: Mormon Olympian (Mo-Lympian) Blogs « MORMON SOPRANO

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