Myra Bean column

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Does a future Olympian live in Panola County?

This happens to be one of my favorite times of the year. Why?

I’m glad you asked.

It’s time for the Summer Olympics.

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Does a future Olympian live in Panola County who has not yet reared his or her head?

It takes a lot of sacrifice of family togetherness and time to be an Olympic athlete. Reading about the athletes, one finds many leave home to go live with or near a coach of that sport.

Practice takes seven to eight hours daily of their time in addition to tutoring for school. Their days start early, but they have set it in their minds they will do this.

Then, they have to be the best to even make the USA team. If they do not make that team, it would seem all the sacrifice was for nothing.

It would be nice to see a local face in the Olympics. I see a lot of exceptional athletes come through this county. One may have made the fastpitch softball team, but this is the last year for the sport in the Olympics – unless some people petition for it otherwise. Hmmmm!

We have some gymnasts coming along, I understand.

I am not sure what kind of parents it takes to send your child off to live with Olympic coaches, but it would tear me a part.

One would have to question: is it for me or for him or her?

If it is their dream, do we dare not see how far they will go? Do we not push them to excel in their chosen sports?

If they can dream of NFL, NBA, MLB professional careers, why can’t Panola County children dream Olympic dreams?

Somewhere in this county, I believe a future Olympian resides.

I like the Winter Olympics, but I love the summer games. I had an opportunity to attend the 1984 Olympics in Los Angles as a missionary.

That was a long time ago. I met the greatest of friends.

I still remember many of their names. We do not keep in touch, but I would love to know what each of them is doing.

The reason I do not know what they are doing is that I am the world’s worst at keeping in touch people.

I do not like to write letters. I do not like to talk on the telephone.

Texting and email are the way to go.

Well, as you know or some of you may have heard, there was no such thing as texting and email in “those days.”

I do not have their addresses and phone numbers.

Now, if I had been a better friend, I would have those things now.

Oh, well. Maybe I will get busy and start looking them up.

Actually, when we were at the Olympics, we did not attend the events. A few of them did. We worked as security guards for the athletes coming in or leaving the events. We were stationed at the airport and got to meet so many people from so many different countries.

My friends’ main complaint then were the American team members were the most arrogant and rudest. I only met one American athlete, a baseball player, and he was nice and quiet.

For the most part, when they could understand my southern drawl, I never met a rude athlete.

I got to see and actually touch the medals from the athletes who won. I got two wedding proposals from some Swedish athletes who had just won. Unfortunately,  I had to turn them down.

For some odd reasons, I think they were serious. I did not even know their names. I don’t know what kind of girl they thought I was. Shoot, I was only 20 at the time and too young to think about getting married.

I have two books of photos from that time and pull them out and look at them every once in a while.

Actually, there were only three of us on that 50-member team from the south. We had to make them understand that not everybody was as blessed as we were. Aside from me, one was from Tennessee and the other from Virginia.

I could only imagine what security at airports will be like for athletes. I would probably be a little rude and cranky, too.

The Olympics will be in Beijing, China August 8-24.