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My Tokyo 2020 Highlights

Even though the 2020 Olympic Games ended about a month ago, the captivating moments from the Games continue to remain fresh in my mind. As an avid sports fan, the Olympics are THE event for me. Combining a bunch of sports with talented athletes from all over the world into two weeks is the DREAM. I spent the entire two weeks glued to the TV watching coverage of any and every sport that was broadcasted.

My particular favorites to watch are some of the classics: gymnastics, swimming, track and field, and diving, but really, I’ll watch any sport that’s on.

Now, let’s discuss my top favorite moments from the Games, both in and out of competition:

Caeleb Dressel, Katie Ledecky, and Lydia Jacoby

Now that Michael Phelps has retired, Caeleb is USA Swimming’s new golden boy, and rightfully so. He’s a force to be reckoned with — he won a gold medal in every event that he swam in (that’s FIVE events) and captured the hearts of viewers everywhere, especially after we got to see him talk to his family after winning the men’s 100m freestyle. He’s one of those people that you can just tell is a nice guy, you know? We also got to see Katie Ledecky conquer her third Olympics and dominate in the first-ever women’s 1500m free. 1500 meters?? Casual. One of my other favorite swimmers to watch was newcomer Lydia Jacoby out of Alaska. The 17-year-old beat out veteran Olympic swimmers in the women’s 100m breaststroke to win gold, which was already amazing, but her high school’s reaction was the cherry on top. A great part of the Olympic coverage is the human interest element that they include in between events, spotlighting athletes and their backgrounds — Lydia and her Alaskan high school, Caeleb’s family, you name it. This often results in some heartwarming moments where, no, I definitely wasn’t tearing up during it all. (Yes I was.)

USA Women’s Gymnastics

The USA gymnastics team is consistently a lovable favorite from year to year at the Olympics, and this year was no different. Powerhouse Simone Biles returned with a new group of mega-talented gymnasts in tow. What stood out to me the most about USA gymnastics this year, though, was the resiliency and individuality of the women’s team. Simone Biles taking control over her mental health and stepping down when she needed to undoubtedly set an example for young athletes all over the world to prioritize their mental health and speak up about it. Her teammates supported her and proved themselves in the team final to win a silver medal, which was extremely impressive. It was beautiful to learn about Suni Lee’s family and her biggest fan — her dad, who built her a balance beam in their backyard when she was a kid. Listening to their story about their struggles with her dad’s injury and how much they’ve supported Suni’s gymnastics career made it that much sweeter when she won the women’s all-around gold medal. Jade Carey endured some disappointment early on when she placed low in her first few events, but came back to win the gold medal for women’s floor exercise. These women are amazing! Team USA gymnastics is amazing! All of the gymnasts are amazing! No shortage of talent here, folks.

Olympic Race Walking

I mean…come on, this is awesome. It looks easy, but I guarantee you there has to be an art to it that the average Joe doesn’t understand. What’s beautiful about the Olympics is that there is truly something for everyone, variety-wise. And race walking is one of those things that has to make you smile.

The Opening Ceremony sport pictograms

Every Olympiad comes with the beauty of its host country — and part of that is the opening ceremony, which beautifully demonstrates the host culture and welcomes the rest of the world to the start of the Games. One of its key segments is to introduce the pictograms created to represent each of the 50 sports represented at the Games, and Tokyo did NOT disappoint. The whimsical display set everything off on a brilliant start. I love creative things like that, so it had me laughing and entertained the entire time.

Tom Daley’s Knit-A-Palooza

Great Britain’s Tom Daley has proved himself as a fierce competitor in the men’s platform and synchronized diving events, but he’s also proved himself as a fierce knitter. That’s right, he picked up knitting as a side hobby and brought it with him to Tokyo, passing the time when he wasn’t competing knitting away in the stands. By the end of the Games, he knitted himself a festive Team Great Britain Olympic sweater and adorable pouches to hold his gold and bronze medals. Things we love to see? This. Olympic knitting.

Sharing Gold

Every Olympic athlete obviously has their sights set on a gold medal, and they’re pouring every bit of blood, sweat, and tears into the competition to get there. In the men’s high jump finals, Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi both cleared the 2.37 meter (final) checkpoint, which would usually mean a jump-off to determine gold and silver. Instead, they decided to forgo the jump-off and share the gold medal. (No, I’m not tearing up, there’s just something in my eye.) How cool is this? Either one of them could have so easily opted for a jump-off to be the standalone winner. I think this was such a demonstration of the meaning of the Olympics — while it’s true that all of the participating countries are competing against each other for medals, the Games are meant to unite the world under one commonality: a love for sports.

One of my favorite things to watch at the Olympics (and really with any sports event) is sportsmanship between opposing teams or players, because it signals to me that they acknowledge their common ground as athletes and their part in something bigger than just themselves.

I could go on all day about the awesome moments I witnessed during the Tokyo 2020 Games, but I’ll spare you for now. It was also exciting to continue to watch some amazing moments during the Paralympic Games that followed. If I were you, I’d check out the NBC Olympics social media channels for all of the highlights and moments of glory (this isn’t sponsored, they just cover it all and I love it.)

I feel like I was looking forward to Tokyo 2020 for SO long (probably because it took an extra year to get here) and now I’m sad that they’re already over! #postolympicsdepression

Luckily, we don’t have to wait for too long for the next Games to start. Beijing 2022 is slated to start in about six months! 🙂

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Sports

Volunteering at the Wells Fargo Tournament

In early May, my dad and I volunteered at the Wells Fargo Golf Tournament in Charlotte. I was extremely excited for the opportunity to see the tournament firsthand after watching it on TV in the past or hearing about it around town.

It definitely did not disappoint!

An added benefit of volunteering: Chick-Fil-A 🙂

We signed up for the tournament coolers committee, which was responsible for replacing the ice and water in each tee box cooler around the golf course. By signing up with this committee, we got to see a bunch of the behind-the-scenes logistics that go into the tournament as well as witness some pretty cool golf moments!

The committee was split into pairs, each driving a golf cart with either water bottles or bags of ice. Then, one ice cart and one water cart would partner up to fulfill either the Front 9 or the Back 9.

My dad and I took the Back 9 on the first day, which was during the Pro-Am tournament. We got to see Christian McCaffrey (of the Carolina Panthers) play a few holes up close! (Sort of a “pinch me” moment to see that, if you ask me)

Once each tee box was vacated by the group of players, we would empty the cooler of its melted ice and used water bottles, as well as the buckets of water used to clean golf clubs. Then, we’d replace each cooler with fresh water and ice, refill the buckets, and go on to the next hole!

On the second and third days of the tournament, we alternated between the Back 9 and the Front 9, which allowed us to take a full tour of the beautiful Quail Hollow golf course.

We got to watch Phil Mickelson play a hole, which was super neat thinking about how I’ve watched him play in countless tournaments growing up and now he was in front of me!

Our committee got to see so many talented golfers play, which was cool in itself but also inspiring to me as a beginner golfer. Picking up golf this past year has been one of the best decisions for me — I love trying new things anyway, but it’s especially fun when it involves getting outside, sports, and hanging out with family.

I wouldn’t say I’ll be ready for the LPGA tour any time soon (lol) but I really enjoy developing a new skill and working to improve my game.

I’m already looking forward to volunteering at next year’s tournament, which will be the President’s Cup!

The PGA was shooting promotional content for the President’s Cup, which is coming to Quail Hollow in 2022!