Tonight the Olympic Games begin. The nations will march in carrying their flags with pride in the Opening Ceremony in Rio. We’ll tune in from afar, explaining to our children why these Games matter.
Our team has memories of the Magnificent Seven gymnastics team and its dramatic victory, Flo-Jo’s speed and long nails and Michael Phelps’ record-setting performances. We remember wishing it was us, watching in awe.
Here are some of our favorite Olympic memories. Be sure to share yours with us after this post.
“Summer of 92 got in big fights with my neighborhood friend about who got to be Shannon Miller when we did gymnastics on her trampoline! (This was before they had safety nets for them…)” – Julia W.
“Ah, yes. Shannon Miller. I remember landing on my head attempting a back handspring in my living room because I was convinced I could be the next Olympian. And my mom caught it all on the video camera.” – Amber D.
“I wanted to name my first-born child Dominique after watching them compete.” – Mackenzie O.
“My aunt lived in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics and she got me a Dominique Dawes signed T-shirt. It was three sizes too big, but I didn’t care. It looked awesome while I perfected my flips over the side of the couch’s armrest!” – Michelle B.
“I remember wanting to look like Flo-Jo. Her nails, her muscles, her spandex. I also I wanted to run as fast and gracefully as she did.” – Amelia R.
“I vividly remember Kerri Strug nailing the vault after hurting her ankle in the 1996 Olympics to clinch the team all-around for the Magnificent Seven. Gymnastics have always been my favorite.” – Julie H.
“Watching Michael Phelps pile on the medals in Bejing was pretty amazing. I watched the race that made him the most decorated Olympian in the middle of Power and Light on the big screen out there, and it was absolutely crazy!” – Julie H.
“I remember having a 1990’s trading card of Shannon Miller (did anybody else have one of these?!). I loved that card. I would study her pose, memorize her stats. And I most likely created some variation of a floor routine to Bette Midler’s Moonlight Dancing.” – Betsy K.
“I lived in Australia during the Sydney 2000 Olympics. This may sound really strange, but every time my family heard the US National Anthem during a medal ceremony, we’d all stand up and sing. It still gives me chills to hear that song!” – Britt L.
“When I was a bartender at the Flying Saucer, I loved watching the opening ceremonies during the Beijing 2008 and London 2012, guessing the flags and cheering for countries where I knew someone that was from there.” – Rachel L.
“During the 1996 games, the torch came through out town. Our 4-H club had a group together, and we went and held signs and watched the runner come through.” – Jessica J.
“About 4 years ago, I also pretended I was a member of the gymnastics team. I kid, I kid…Back in the 90’s I would dance along with them and make up my own stuff to the rhythmic gymnastics routines or floor exercises. As well as trying to nail the perfect landing from the balance beam. I also would practice how I would receive my gold medal and wave at the crowd. But more recently, I made these adorable Olympic Torch cupcakes to celebrate a few years ago! Watching the athletes compete always drives me to go farther on my runs and work a little harder in my workouts….when I’m not 8 months pregnant that is!” – Beth T.
“I moved to SLC a few years post the 2002 winter games., but the hype was still very much alive! The University of Utah (where I went to grad school) played a big part in the games and you can’t drive past the stadium today without noticing the Olympic cauldron. We also visited Olympic Park in Park City on several occasions and even rode the bobsled track, which was totally insane! Living in Utah for several years really instilled the excitement for the games in me – knowing I lived in a great city where our nation once hosted the world.” – Stephanie A.
The family traditions
“Since it was on in the evening, my parents would record it off TV onto VHS (the 80’s, woohoo!). Then my sister and I would watch the tapes over and over again.” – Diana W.
“We didn’t have cable growing up, so the Summer Olympics were a huge event for us to watch. It was the rare time we could eat off TV trays and all sit around and watch during dinner. And we would stay up late to have races outside pretending to be Olympians. I plan on doing the same with my kids because I remember it being so fun. Only we will upgrade from the 90’s TV trays to something a little cooler.” – Kristin R.
Marking life moments
“I collected all the commemorative Olympic glasses from McDonalds in 1988 – I think I still have one somewhere. Also, I rocked a super cool vintage Dorothy Hamill wedge haircut when I was around four… it was quite lovely.” – Rachel C.
“The 2008 Olympics took place as I was starting my first year of teaching, and it was also around the time TV signals switched to digital instead of analog. My roommate and I only had an old borrowed TV, so we bought a converter box and tried to watch the games using it. I remember it would only work if we moved the TV right against the sliding glass door of our apartment, so I’d sit on the floor and lesson plan every night, trying to catch a decent signal to watch! (This makes me sound way older than I am … or am I that old?!)” – Jenna B.
“This one isn’t warm and fuzzy, but I miscarried my first baby during the 2012 Olympic Games. I was 12 weeks along when I started bleeding, and the baby still had a heartbeat, so the doctor sent me home to wait and see what would happen. That was a long, hard week, but because I wasn’t at work, I was able to watch the Fierce Five compete from London every day in real time. It sounds crazy, but watching those girls compete really helped me get through that week. Watching them win gold will always be a good memory from a sad season.” – Jenna B.
“The 2012 London Olympics were the summer before I graduated college. I was finding every excuse possible to NOT enter the real world. After a long night at a drinking establishment, I announced to my mother that I had decided to drop out of my last semester to become an Olympic rower. Needless to say, that didn’t go over well. Maybe one day.” – Michelle B.
“I remember watching floor gymnastics with a friend when we were about 6. She commented on how when you do gymnastics, you don’t get to have boobs. And that when you don’t have boobs, you get cancer. Thus, I’ve never tried gymnastics.” – Alex T.