What does a gold medal Olympian have in common with a woman of a certain age whose athletic ability is minimal to say the least?
Nothing, you say. They have absolutely nothing in common.
Ahha! I beg to differ.
Other than the fact that we are both Canadians, there is this one thing that I have in common with Maggie MacNeil, the gold medal winner of the 100-butterfly final at the Olympics, one common denominator that differentiates us from not all, but, for sure, many other humans.
We both wear glasses. And I’m betting that because Maggie couldn’t read the scoreboard to visually see she had won the gold medal she is nearsighted just like me.
I was more than slightly amused when I learned Maggie MacNeil’s reaction to winning the gold medal in Tokyo was delayed because she couldn’t see the score board.
“I heard my name called, so I thought I did something well,” MacNeil is quoted as saying after the race.
Yes, it is true. Even on the world’s biggest stage at the Olympics in the 100m Butterfly final, the London, Ont. swimmer faced the human reality of simply not being able to see the scoreboard to check out her score.
To me watching MacNeil struggling to read the scoreboard after her amazing win made the young Olympian seem more real, somehow. And her comment that she thought she had probably done something well when she heard her name called, made her seem even more vulnerable and humble, and somehow relatable to common folk such as me.
I have a great deal of respect for athletes. The Olympics has been a wonderful showcase of talent, strength and endurance that is inspirational for us all.
But, even back at home in my own little world that encompasses personal joys, challenges, and everyday stuff like cooking meals and taking out the garbage, there has been drama unfolding.
You see I have this granddaughter who is a pitcher for the Lloydminster Liners softball team. Last weekend the Liners competed in the provincials.
What does that have to do with the Olympics, you may ask.
But still watching that young girl on the pitcher’s mound, made my grandma heart swell with pride, and, I knew without a doubt, that watching her play ball was exactly where I wanted to be, no matter what Olympic sport was going on in the world.
She did fine, my Kallie. Mostly she fired that ball across the plate like nobody’s business. And, more often than not, we heard the umpire yell, “you’re out,” when she was on the pitcher’s mound.
But the Liner’s lost in the final, and, this year’s ball season, for that team at last, is finished.
Yes, no doubt, I was proud of my granddaughter, who truly did give her best out there on the pitcher’s mound, but what pleased me to no end was a comment my friend made after the tournament.
“She really is a talented pitcher, but she doesn’t really act like she knows it. She just seems like a sweet, quiet, shy kid who loves to play ball.”
When he said that I thought about Maggie MacNeil who said she thought she did something well when she heard her name called.
There is something to be said for being humble. It speaks to the heart even louder than winning.
Treena Mielke is a central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.