' Cinema Romantico: What Dreams May Or May Not Come

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

What Dreams May Or May Not Come

Utilizing the word dream when discussing the Olympics is precarious. Is the word best utilized in the manner of NBC, as if it was the succulent syrup drenching and sometimes drowning out the pancakes? Or is the word best avoided completely, as all the grinches eating gruel while cynically tweeting would have you believe? As is often the case, the answer likely lies in the middle. The Olympics first and foremost are about the athletes and, by extension, their athletic events. But are we to assume that as each athlete prepares in the intervening four years for his or her event that they are not dreaming of the big day?

What makes the Olympics so compelling is the way in which they are the most colossal of one-shot deals, filled with people who work tirelessly for one moment and if at first they don't succeed cannot try again for four years. Granted, many of the athletes have World Championships and World Cups and Grand Prixs, etc., in which to compete in-between but it's clear to them and to us that the Olympics supersede all. And if the Olympics are the ultimate goal then are we to assume these athletes never - not once - take a romanticized peek at that goal in their minds?


Are we to assume that British long distance runner Mo Farah never once envisioned his 10,000 meter run at the enormous stadium in the city where he lives when he was training day after day in the wilds of Oregon? That he never dreamt of racing the last 100 meters of the 6+ miles with thousands of his countrymen and women roaring? That he never dreamt of taking a victory lap with the Union Jack? That he never dreamt of being greeted in the transcendent wake by his wife and child? That he never dreamt of his training partner and pal, Oregonian Galen Rupp, being right there at the end with him and taking the precious silver to his own cherished gold?

Of course, that's exactly what happened. This isn't to say it was easy. How could it be easy? Farah was bumped, jostled and pushed. Another runner fell down and although he got back up his chances were kaput. The pace was slow, then fast, then slow. Farah fought to the lead and had it with but 200 meters left but the world record holder was hot on his heels and so often in these sorts of races the leader gets run down. Not this time. Farah raced the last 100 meters of the 6+ miles with thousands of his countrymen and women roaring. He took a victory lap with the Union Jack. He was greeted in the transcendent wake by his wife and child. His training partner and pal, Oregonian Galen Rupp, was right there at the end with him, taking precious silver to his own cherished gold. It was, in other words, a dream come true.

Are we to assume that U.S. marathoner Desiree Davila never once envisioned her Olympic marathon through the historic streets of London when she was training day after day in the Hills of Rochester (MI). That she never dreamt of her feet carrying her past Buckingham Palace and on to the finish line? That she never dreamt of running alone with the lead, her nearest competitor far behind? That she never dreamt of being the first American since 1984 to win the event? That she never dreamt of standing on the podium and hearing the anthem of a nation of 300 million played just for her?


Of course, that's not exactly what happened. So much of the Olympic experience is based on luck. If there is a time to not get hurt it is only a few weeks before you run the toe the starting line of the marathon and, alas, Davila suffered a hip flexor injury only a few weeks before toing the starting line of the marathon. She considered not even entering the race. It was briefly reported that she would not enter. But she did enter. She was mentioned, briefly, and then forgotten as others surged forward and pushed the pace. Finally, forty-four minutes in, around mile eight, NBC reported that Davila had dropped out. She had, in fact, dropped out much earlier - enduring only 2.2 miles. There were no cameras. We are left to speculate how it looked. Likely there were no cheers, perhaps just quiet disbelief. It was, in other words, a dream that failed to come true.

In a pre-race interview she said this: "I'm going to be on the line. I want to start. I want to be an Olympian. You gotta get across the start to be an Olympian. I've done so much my entire life to get that." She did get that. She got across the start. She's an Olympian, regardless of the DNF (Did Not Finish) that accompanies her name with the official results. Nothing can take it away. Yet I can't help but wonder if that dream nags at her.

If so, she can take solace in the dream of Rio.

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