Who will be the 2012 Olympic star?

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, July 22, 2012

As a kid, I was always glued to the television when the Olympics would come around. Back then they were held every four years. Now they are split into summer and winter sports and are held every two years.

     I was an avid watcher of gymnastics. I could sit for hours and watch the different gymnasts, both male and female, perform their routines.

     I also really liked the diving competitions and volleyball.

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     The opening ceremony is Friday and the competitions will continue until Aug. 12.

     This year’s host city is London, England. I wonder who the break out athlete will be this year?

     The last summer Olympics was held in 2008 in Beijing, China. The big star that year was swimmer Michael Phelps. He has won 16 Olympic medals since 2004.

     Phelps is on track to become an all-time record holder of medals if he continues his winning streak. He’s going to have a major competitor in fellow USA swimmer Ryan Lochte.

     NBC is the official broadcast station for the Olympics this year. I can only imagine all of the work that goes into televising something so universal.

     I love hearing about all of the “back” stories on the athletes they cover. It shows the dedication and commitment that goes into becoming a world-class competitor. It also shows a lot of the sacrifices these athletes go through in order to become an Olympian, which is one of their ultimate goals, not to mention winning a gold.

     The Olympic trials were on television a few weeks ago and I sat and watched a couple of nights of competition, especially the gymnasts. I was a bit disappointed to see gymnast Nastia Liukin go home. She was on the 2008 U.S. Women’s Gymnastic team.

     Most of the competitors in this sport are usually in their teens. As a 20-something, she was pretty much an old-timer in the sport, unfortunately.

     I’ll never forget the 1976 Olympics held in Montreal, Canada. That was the year 14-year-old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci wowed the world with her perfect 10s. It was amazing that someone so young could accomplish so much in just 14 short years.

     Since her perfect 10 performances, the way routines are scored has changed. There will probably never be anything equivalent to a perfect 10.

     Now each routine is graded on several different factors, including difficulty, and can only be scored up to a certain number that is predetermined by the judges.

     Now gymnasts are doing double back flips, double and triple twists, and many other maneuvers that gymnasts of the ’60s and ’70s would have deemed nearly impossible.

     Gymnastics has always been my very favorite Olympic sport. I’ve followed the careers of Russian Olga Korbut, the U.S.’s Cathy Rigby, Mary Lou Retton and others.

     Once they emerge from the Olympics, these athletes go on to garner advertising endorsements and television commentator roles. Up until a few years ago, you could still see Nadia Comaneci commentating on the sport of gymnastics. I think it would be pretty awesome if NBC brought her back and told what she’s been up to in the last several years.

     I wonder who the break out star in gymnastics will be this year? In 2008 it was Shawn Johnson.

     Out of the five young women on this year’s U.S. Gymnastics team, Jordyn Wieber, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, Kyla Ross and McKayla Maroney, I think that Wieber has garnered more press. I have a feeling that Douglas may overshadow them all. Only time will tell. I just hope they bring home a few gold medals.

     I’m ready to tune in and watch history in the making.

     And how was your week?

     Lifestyles Editor Tammie Brewer can be reached at The DAILY LEADER at (601) 833-6961 ext. 134, by e-mail at tbrewer@dailyleader.com or you can write to her at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602.