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Trip abroad left lasting impression

As I watched the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, on television, several things came to mind throughout the broadcast: The difficulties the athletes go through, the political pressure put on them by their governments in some cases, learning more about the history of the host country or bringing back old memories of past experiences.

The Olympic Games represent the best of the best in their particular sport, and unlike playing for a team or franchise, they are all competing for their respective countries.

The first thing I thought about as the parade of nations began is seeing all of these countries that had one or two athletes. We all know about the large delegations like the United States, Canada and Russia, but the small countries and territories that only have those few representatives are the feel-good stories of the games. Especially from countries where they may not have the facilities and support that those Olympians from other countries have.

I love the movie “Cool Runnings” from the early 1990s that featured the story of four sprinters from Jamaica who competed in the bobsled event at the Winter Olympics in Calgary. This year we have the Jamaicans who qualified for the two-man event. However, their journey was not without obstacles when the team’s luggage and equipment was delayed.

While that is a feel-good story, you are quickly reminded about the very different circumstances — politically, economically or socially — that some athletes face within their home country. It makes the things that we Americans sometimes squabble over that appear large, to in fact be miniscule compared to the problems in other countries.

I am a bit of a history aficionado and love learning about the cultures that have not only shaped the country I call home, but others around the world. Although it is a shortened version, the opening ceremony offers a glimpse of the history to be found from the host country.

The final thing that always comes flooding back, whether it is the Summer Olympics or Winter Olympics, are the memories that I was able to experience. No, I was not an athlete or ever attended the Olympics. However, as a sophomore in high school, I was afforded the opportunity to take a school trip to Italy and Greece. Of all the magnificent sites and rich history of the Vatican, the Coliseum, the Parthenon or Acropolis, it was the grounds where the Ancient Olympics were held in Olympia that left a lasting impression.

As I walked around the grounds even as a teenager, I tried to visualize what it was like in those ancient times and how much different the world was. Then, fast forward and imagine how much it has changed from then to now.

With all that said, the lasting impression we have is that regardless of views, beliefs or background we find ourselves during these two weeks rooting and being a part of one big team — Team USA.

 

Josh Morrison is the general manager at The Tribune. To reach him, call 740-532-1441 ext. 16 or by email at josh.morrison@irontontribune.com.