It happened again last night. The Olympics made me cry. Thank goodness they’re nearing an end or I might need therapy.
This time, it was Women’s Figure Skating.
I stayed up way past my bedtime last night to see if Mirai Nagasu, for whom I have a special mile-wide soft spot, would land her triple axel again. I stayed to watch the Russian skaters duke it out for the gold. But for me, the can’t miss moment belonged to Gabrielle Daleman from Canada.
Sitting in my bed in the dark, I watched her fall. And fall again. And again. A few weeks ago, I wiped out while running, so I know exactly how much it hurts to fall. But she popped up and kept going. Again and again. I know, this is the Olympics and that’s just what you do. But it is not always what I do, so I am always inspired by this kind of relentless grit. She hung on like this through the longest four minutes I think I’ve ever witnessed.
In those four minutes though, something almost magical happened. This massive arena, filled with people from all over the world, somehow knew what they had to do. First they began clapping along to the beat. Then it was giving the kind of applause Gabrielle Daleman usually gets for nailing her jumps each time she got back up. In those minutes, it seemed like every person in that area silently understood their one job: LIFT HER UP. They wanted her to know she was not alone. They wanted her to know they were on her side. Their applause seemed to say “We see you working so hard. Hold on.”
I felt it too, sitting in the dark, on the other side of the globe. It was beautiful. It reminded me what we humans are capable of when we really see each other.
So this morning, as reporters discuss the skill and artistry of the skaters who made it to the medal stand, my Olympic hero is Gabrielle Daleman, the woman who, for four minutes last night showed me what grit looks like and gave me a tiny glimpse of a better world.