Medal Me, Baby, One More Time
Just 24 hours after Team GB took home show jumping team gold, the dressage team decided to get in on the history-making action. While the jumping team had put in a decidedly dominant performance, the dressage riders positively piaffed away with the lead, having the gold medal in hand before the final German and Dutch riders even entered the ring.
Great Britain’s Carl Hester and Laura Bechtolsheimer, ride the victory lap after receiving the gold medal in the equestrian dressage team competition. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
As the three medaling teams entered the ring for the medals ceremony, it was impossible not to notice how much fancier “nervous jigging” looked when a big, beefy dressage horse did it, as opposed to a wiry, keyed up show jumper.
Once again the Brits took their place atop the podium, the Union Jack was hoisted high and the crowd swayed and sang God Save the Queen. (And I, of course, got choked up. Again. Such a sap.)
Walking out of the stadium, I was in front of a pair of women who were discussing the day’s events. They were clearly not riders, but as they reflected on their first Olympic experience, they couldn’t have been happier that they could “only” get dressage tickets. “Seeing the flag raised and singing God Save the Queen – how many people get to do that at the Olympics? I’m not sure I’ve ever been so proud to be a Brit.”
Team GB pride.
I’m constantly surrounded by reminders of the power of these games. Watching a child’s eyes light up as they witness greatness for the first time, and seeing them process the limitless possibilities life holds for them is refreshing, inspiring and humbling.
Seeing Ben Maher sheepishly unzip his team jacket to reveal his hidden gold medal, and then watching his mom hug him made me think back to all the times my mom has hugged me after competitions. I can remember feeling her pride as she held me in her arms, and I know that Ben was feeling that same thing. He looked so tired and relieved and comforted.
The impossibly humble Maher.
Walking into a pub in London proper where local fans are moved to tears as the home team brings home another medal, I’ve seen former strangers become best friends in an instant.
This is what the Olympics are all about. And I’m honored to bear witness to it.