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Patty Leon: I’m in such awe of Olympic athletes
Patty Leon new

Most of them spent their entire lives training in their sport. Hours upon hours of rigorous exercise and practice for a chance to be the best in the world and represent their country. I felt such sorrow for Shaun White.

In what turned out to be his final Olympics, he failed to medal. But he had medaled in the past.

The three-time Olympic gold medalist will be remembered forever as the man who pioneered the sport of snowboarding.

I was so proud watching Erin Jackson win the 500-meter speedskating event. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and fun skating alongside the newest and history-making Olympic gold medalist.

Jackson has been on skates since she was 8. In Beijing, she became the first African-American to win gold in a speedskating event and ended the United States’ 10-year medal drought in the sport. Jackson started her speedskating career in Ocala with inline skates.

She also started playing roller derby, which is how I got to meet her in person. When I skated for the Savannah Derby Devils, Jackson was all-star jammer for the Jacksonville Roller Girls, a team that often made it to the championship games.

Jackson came to Savannah and offered a skills camp for our team, and it was a remarkable experience.

To think that her first time on ice was only in 2016, and within four months, she qualified for the 2018 Olympics, but failed to medal. She is truly a great person and an incredible athlete.

Nathan Cheng was flawless in his routines.

Chloe Kim catching air was breathtaking. Watching Elana Meyers-Taylor overcome a positive COVID test to earn silver and bronze in her events was triumphant. In all, Team USA finished with 25 medals, including eight gold, 10 silver and seven bronze.

I admire the determination these athletes have. I used to have the drive and determination to stay in shape. Not lately. However, if sitting at my computer for extended periods of time, typing up words and reading stories were an Olympic event, I would stand a good chance of medaling.

Or if sitting in my recliner while I binge-watched a Netflix series were a sport, I’d medal there, too. I might be a contender in the Olympic sport of procrastinating, too, if there were such a thing.

If shopping from Amazon was an Olympic sport, I might be a contender, but I admit there are probably a lot of other highly qualified competitors in this arena.

If saying I was going to start a workout, only to say I’ll start tomorrow, was a sport, I am the clear winner! Heck, I’d be a two-time Olympic gold medalist if yo-yo dieting was a sport. But after watching the Olympics, I feel a bit inspired. I mean, it’s not too late to pick up a new sport, is it? After all, I was 45 when I started playing roller derby. I’ll be 57 this June — maybe I can get ready for the senior Olympics.

YES! That’s what I’ll do, but what sport?

I’ve always wanted to try archery, but buying the necessary equipment seems really expensive. I suck at racquet sports, so tennis, racquetball, pickleball, table tennis and badminton are OUT!

My knees are pretty shot from my football and roller derby days, so track and field is a no, but walking/powerwalking is a big maybe. Bowling, cornhole and shuffleboard are strong possibilities. So is swimming, which would be a gentle option for my aging joints.

I bet I can get pretty good at one of those three options, if I stop procrastinating, get my rear in gear and start exercising again. Why not? I used to be pretty active up until not too long ago! Heck yeah, I know I can do this! Get ready world, here comes a future senior Olympian! Nothing is going to stop me now!

Oh man, it’s raining outside. Meh — maybe I’ll start tomorrow.

Patty Leon is the senior editor of the Coastal Cou-

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