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Are any of you out there olympaholics like me? I didn't watch ALL of the events, some are definitely more exciting than others, but the true fascination comes from the basic make-up of these athletes. To get to the point of competition in the Olympic Games, they have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of excellence in their sport. The stories of their rise to this level of expertise are what keep me glued to the TV. Some athletes just naturally become media favorites, but they all have their unique backgrounds and you forget that these young people are dealing with everyday pressures on top of the unimaginable expectations they, and others, have set for themselves. The injuries that prevent successful participation in the games, the death of a young man the very day before his scheduled participation, and the heartbreak of a girl losing her mother and missing her presence at her medal ceremony; these are at the very heart of it. What pressure and glory and companionship they must experience; so unique, that bind them together at this particular moment in their lives. The history and games themselves are a mystery to me. Thankfully, there are books out there to help with that as well as tell the stories of the legends that are created!
The Complete Book of the Olympics: 2008 Edition by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky helps with all of that. Full of Olympic lore and complete statistics, this book also contains a summary history of every event of the modern Games. It includes stories of some of the remarkable legendary athletes. Especially for young readers, Swifter, Higher, Stronger: A Photographic History of the Summer Olympics by Sue Macy offers fascinating tidbits in a photo-rich history of the Summer Olympics. It begins with a background on the Games, then turns to broader themes, such as controversies and sportsmanship.
I have a lot of reading to do to get up to speed (in an armchair in my case) before the Summer Games begin!