Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Where do gymnasts go after the Olympics?

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending the NCAA women's gymnastics championships, hosted at UCLA in Pauley Pavilion--the site of the 1984 Olympics and Mary Lou Retton's and the men's team's winning performances. It was my first time attending the championships or any NCAA meet more significant than a simple dual meet, which I used to go to regularly back in 2005 and 2006 when I lived in the Los Angeles area.

From those meets and from television, I knew that NCAAs, while a serious competition, were also something of a party. I just had no idea how much fun it would be to watch others having that much fun. Every routine was greeted with a bevy of high fives, hit or miss. The individual athletes (without teams on the floor) were greeted enthusiastically by the teams they rotated with in the qualifications in a show of wonderful sportswomanship and camaraderie. And then there's the dancing--on sidelines to the radio or as their teammates are performing. (In the case of UCLA, one of the assistant coaches/trainers really gets into in. At the end of event finals, he was up on top of the vault, shaking and shimmying.)

I wrote about this joyful competitive atmosphere for Slate in the essay, "Post Olympic." Check it out here. (New York Magazine also did a little blog piece on my story, which you can find here.)

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