During the opening ceremony for the London Olympics last night, athletes from around the world gathered to light the torch for the Summer Games. The global competition is arguably the biggest stage in sport and it will remain a focal point around the world for the next couple of weeks.
The drama of the Games is what seems to attract us most. In 1996, we jumped out of our chairs when gymnast Keri Strug, nursing an injured ankle, stuck an improbable vault to win gold for the U.S women’s gymnastics team. In Sydney in 2000, Rulon Gardner turned cartwheels and somersaults when he won gold by out-wrestling a seemingly invincible Russian. Four years ago in Beijing, swimmer Michael Phelps broke the records for the most gold medals in a single games and most career golds. This year, he is expected to leave London as the most decorated summer Olympian ever.
Yes, the athletes bring plenty of drama to the Games. But they also bring something else – some of the best abs in the world outside of the movies.
Right now, the world’s largest gathering of great six-packs is in London. From Olympic swimmers and track and field athletes to (you don’t watch it for the articles) the beach volleyball competition, those rock-hard abs are on display in our family rooms, shaming some of us and inspiring others.
I’ve never really had great abs. They’ve lain dormant virtually my entire life because I’ve never been motivated to work on them beyond making what amounts to failed New Year’s resolutions. At the dawn of each 12 month cycle, I make a silent pledge to myself to get down on the floor and put my abs, such as they are, through their crunches. By February, my middle-aged gut has pretty much had enough and just wants to go back to having a beer or two in the evening.
This year, though, is different. My resolve to tighten up has lasted longer than a few weeks. And, while I don’t expect to come anywhere close to Olympic abs, I’ve been struggling off and on since January to strengthen my core.
Although the Summer Games are inspiring, my motivation came from somewhere else. (And no, it wasn’t through any of those TV infomercials in which perfect looking people with their bare midriffs effortlessly demonstrate an ab-enhancer they say will give you great abs in just two minutes a day).
I had my 30th high school reunion to attend.
And as it turns out, it was a good thing I prepared a little.
As pathetic as it seems, I don’t think I’ve ever had as intense an ab workout as I did meeting up with the friends of my youth last weekend. By the time I got home, I felt like I had done a million sit-ups.
A close friend summed up our gathering nicely.
“Suck it up boys,” he quipped as yet another camera appeared out of nowhere to take yet another picture.
That confirmed for me that I wasn’t the only one sucking it up every time someone pulled out a camera. I bet if you were a fly on the wall when they got us all together for the group picture you would have noticed the men among us standing up a little straighter all at once. And, if you were really paying attention, you would have heard a giant collective exhale when the picture-taking was done.
If sucking it up were an Olympic sport and my reunion had hosted the qualifying trials, I’m pretty sure I’d be in London right now.