It’s a well-recognized truth that playing sports brings out the best — and worst — in people. The same can be said about watching sports, and that goes double for me, since I’m both a fan and an athlete. More than double, actually: I’m downrightSybil-esque. To view the Olympics with me is to witness a one-woman crowd in which some spectators display noble and uplifting emotions like compassion, empathy and pride, but others reveal themselves to be mean, bitter and envious.
I may be an “age group athlete” at this point, but I still identify so closely with the young female athletes that when I watch them, my reactions are visceral. I twist, writhe, hold my breath and clench my fists in front of the television as they go through their events. The Summer Games are more intense for me than the winter ones, as they feature the greatest number of sports I still do regularly: swimming, cycling, running and triathlon. And just to heighten the tension of my internal crowd, boxing, a sport I trained in for a half-dozen years without ever making it into the ring, debuts in London as a women’s competition.