The program began with the playing of the Olympic Hymn, followed by video clips of the day’s medal winning competitors, one event at a time. The announcer invited us to welcome each group of three medal winners, as they were escorted to the awards platform.
I joined in as each medal-winning athlete was able to bask in the “group love” that cascaded out of the stands. When the Canadian snow boarder was announced, the din lasted for what seemed like ten minutes.
When the events had taken place in Whistler (a two hour drive north) the awards ceremony was remotely broadcast on the large center screen, and even so, during the playing of the anthem, all 10,000 of us got to our feet in respectful silence.
Lindsey Vonn was perhaps the most pre-promoted of the Vancouver athletes, so her victory was doubly sweet. She met and exceeded all expectations, and some might say she guaranteed her financial future as well. What pleased me the most, however, was the way her eyes teared up during the anthem, almost as if she was hearing it for the first time. I remembered my medal ceremony, and how precious the experience was for me. With the huge gold medal around her neck, I doubt that Vonn was thinking about how rich she was going to be, but rather how happy she was at that moment.
It is rare that someone can be the best in the world at something, and even rarer that the realization can be shared with the entire planet as well. That is what a gold medal ceremony is, and few can imagine the impact of the realization in advance.
I welcome Lindsey Vonn to the exclusive family of Olympic Champions, and I shed a few tears on her behalf, as well.