The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Athens 2004

OP/ED

Welcome back, Mustangs! And to the class of 2008, welcome!

Summer 2004 has seen many interesting headlines. Martha Stewartcurrently serves out her five month prison sentence after which shewill serve five more months under house arrest.

Scott Peterson’s double murder case is stilldeveloping…again.

Gas prices took a significant hike (need I say more?).

And both President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry havehit the road to campaign across the country.

But nothing has the world’s attention like our athletescurrently competing under the shadow of the Acropolis in Athens,Greece.

After seven years, the U.S. men’s swim team beat out IanThorpe and the Aussies in the 4 x 200m free style relay race forthe gold on Tuesday. I recall about 20 Asians huddled around onetelevision cheering right as Klete Keller barely touched the wallright before Thorpedo. It was brilliant.

Also, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team took silver to theRomanian women. In a way, I was glad for Romania. Following thescandals of their 2000 Sydney team, Romania won the gold andregained the honor for their country.

But all was not lost. After falling on the edge of a tableduring his vault, Paul Hamm became the first U.S. man to winOlympic gold for men’s gymnastics on Wednesday.

The Associated Press reports that his 0.012 margin of victory isthe closest in men’s Olympic history. South Koreans KimDae-eun and Yang Tae-young took silver and bronze respectively.

In watching the Olympics on and off for the past couple of days,I was surprised to learn that SMU has 15 alumni and currentstudents competing in Athens. Seven women and two men are competingin swimming while one woman and five men are in track andfield.

I watch these athletes compete and am amazed at how much timeand energy it takes to prepare, some for four years and others alifetime, for one shot at gold and a dream fulfilled.

On Saturday, as friends and I watched the Chinese and Japanesegymnasts during the men’s team qualifying matches, I spokewith a friend’s father who is a pastor at a Chinese church inRichardson.

He said that in China, athletes are chosen as children. From thetime they can walk all the way to high school, these children arerigorously trained in every aspect of the sport they are in, fromgymnastics to all the martial arts, including weapons training.

After high school, athletes go on to specialized schools anduniversities specifically for their sport. No liberal arts courses.No distractions.

I understand the Japanese are hailed for a heritage verysimilar, which most likely factored into their victory in themen’s gymnastics team finals on Monday.

Such discipline is honed at an early age, and such a life isdedicated to one craft alone.

This dedication is perhaps one of things we most admire aboutthe spirit of the Olympic athletes. It is why we would evenpostpone world wars to gather together as a human race once everyfour years and watch.

So, to SMU’s 15, you may not be representing the samecountry that I live in, but nonetheless I salute you. For all yourhard work and determination, I salute you. And hopefully,I’ll see you up close and personal in Beijing in 2008.

Schedules and pictures of our Mustang Olympians can be found onthe athletics website at www.smumustangs.com. Official coverage inDallas of the Olympics is NBC Channel 5.

 

Christine Dao is a senior journalism major and a columnistfor The Daily Campus. She may be reached at [email protected].

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