Dear Diary: Why Didn't I Take Sports Seriously in 2009?

WORDS BY IRINE LE / @IRLIRINE

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Dear Diary,

Every four years, I feel a pang of emotions that is a mixture of regret, nostalgia, and motivation whenever I watch the Olympics. This year in Rio, that feeling was no exception. After passionately cheering the U.S on (probably the only time in my life where I’ll cheer for the U.S) from my couch, I can safely say that for a good twenty minutes I was furious at myself for giving up swimming when I was thirteen, and not doing it in high school (after having done it since I was three).
   Switch over to the gymnastic events and I can tell you that as I was watching Aly Raisman, Simone Biles, and the other stunning girls of the U.S gymnastics team win gold, I felt like I was going to beat myself up for doing gymnastics for only a week when I was five. The chances that I would actually be in the Olympics now for gymnastics or swimming, even if I continued doing it are probably slim to none, but hey, Gabby Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Kyla Ross, and Jordan Wieber were all sixteen (same age as me) or even younger during London in 2012, and the star swimmer this year, Katie Ledecky was only fifteen in London.
   As a person who is immune to everything that has to do with athletics (I have yet to be diagnosed 
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with my allergy to running, I swear), I can tell you that this Olympics has brought me nothing more than joy. It’s completely mind-blowing to watch these events and be awestruck in all the girls winning gold, most, if not all of them are still teenagers. This year, we watched Simone Biles completely kill it in gymnastics and saw the comeback of Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas. We watched Simone Manuel become the first African-American woman to win Olympic gold in swimming and set her own world records. We watched Katie Ledecky break world records and make her own records on an unprecedented scale. 
   But, is this going to be a spiel of my love for these wonderful women and their achievements? Partially. Mostly, I think what that needs to be admired is that these girls are only teenagers. In this age, we’ve seen more achievements by youth girls than anything and the amount of achievements from youth girls is limitless at this point. As a teenager, there’s nothing more inspirational than seeing someone the same age as myself achieving the pinnacle of their dreams, but knowing that literally in the last year or so, they could’ve been roaming the halls of high school just as I am right now. 

So in the end, would I have been 2016 Rio bound or maybe even 2020 Tokyo bound if I had stuck with swimming laps for hours every day for years? Probably not, but who knows? The one thing that I’ve definitely taken away from this Olympics is that age is not the limit. 

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