As the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games approach, Dr. Angelou takes time to reflect on the spirit and anticipation of the event. Dr. Angelou was asked by the United Sates Olympic Committee to write a poem in honor of the 2008 Games. She shares the poem, Amazement Awaits, and talks with three athletes about their participation in the Games.
Steven Lopez is not yet 30, but he's off to Beijing to compete in his third Olympic Games as a returning gold medalist in Taekwondo. Not only is Steven's older brother, Jean, accompanying him as his coach, but two other members of the Lopez family—brother Mark and sister Diana—are headed to the Olympics as well, also as members of the U.S. Taekwondo team. Steven says his family is the first since 1904 to have three siblings on the same Olympic team. "Hopefully there are families out there that can look to us and say, 'Wow, look at this family who because of their love, because of their passion, because they support each other, have been able to accomplish such things,'" he says.
The 2008 Paralympics Games will also take place in Beijing, shortly after the Olympic Games end. Iraq War veteran Melissa Stockwell, who lost her left leg four years ago when a roadside bomb exploded on her convoy, will represent America on the paralympic swimming team. "When I lost my leg I put very big dreams in front of me, but I never dreamed that it would actually come to this point," she says. "I am getting to go to Beijing and represent the U.S. and do what I love to do, which is swim."
Bart Connor, a retired gymnast who won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympic Games, says being an Olympic athlete is a lifelong honor. "There are no 'former' Olympians because [while] you are perhaps not in competition any longer, you still hopefully uphold the ideals of Olympicism and sportsmanship and fair play," he says. "So, we like to think that title should retain as part of your identity for the rest of your life." Bart married five-time gold medalist Nadia Comaneci, the first gymnast to be awarded perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastic event, and together the two teach their sport to young people and will travel to Beijing as broadcasters. As it turns out, Bart says his Olympic experience has been an integral part of his life. "When I discovered gymnastics I really discovered my life's work and my life's destiny," he says. "It has defined everything I have continued to do and gave me a framework with which to function."
Published on August 04, 2008