Let The Games Begin
B.C., seven hundred seventy-six
was the date of the first Olympic picks.
They spanned (these sportsmanship pioneers)
one thousand, one hundred, sixty-nine years.
Olympiad is a term which can mean
two things: the four-year interval between
the dates of the games we have come to love
or the distinct celebration thereof.
First Olympic race was just sprinters -
Corubus, a chef, was named the winner.
Running one hundred ninety-two meters
he took the lead without any sneakers.
There were no medals; first place got a wreath
worn on his head, twisted from olive leaf.
Second and third place got only glory -
plus bragging rights in telling their story.
Men competed in the nude at the start;
women were invited 'not' to take part.
These games were stopped by Roman signature:
“Way too pagan, ” declared the emperor.
Coubertin, renowned French educator,
was inspired fifteen hundred years later
on a visit to Greek excavation.
He launched the Games’ Re-organization.
Make no mistake; it’s not a mystery
exclusive to Athens’ sports history.
What we still call the “modern” Olympics -
were revived back in eighteen ninety-six.
There was no limitation on ages
by the new IOC* sanctioned sages;
their youngest athlete was a Greek gymnast,
ten years old, named Dimitrios Loundras.
Just four years later in nineteen hundred
on Paris streets, women were first numbered
as Olympians (for only two sports) -
small start, in golf and on the tennis courts.
Nineteen-o-four, here in my own country,
my grandmother traveled to St. Louis.
The Games were held as part of the World’s Fair;
Granny Emma and three sisters worked there.
The new Olympics included the arts
and in nineteen twelve, its founder took part.
Awards for writer, painter, musician,
architect, sculptor – part of his vision.
Baron Pierre de Coubertin chooses
to enter - Pentathlon of the Muses
with his “Ode to Sport”, a lengthy poem.
(He wins gold, but under a pseudonym.)
Do you know what the five rings represent?
Friendship ‘twixt the five major continents.
In nineteen twelve for the first time ever
did all five take part in this endeavor.
Nineteen twenty! Guess what was created?
a hint, “It’s yellow, black, blue, green and red.'
A new flag of five interlocking rings -
special banner for all Olympic things.
Soon thereafter, some fancied a slogan
“Swifter, higher and stronger” was chosen.
Coubertin made his plea that amateurs
only should compete, but his plan detours.
Following the nineteen eighty-eight games,
the IOC cancelled one of its aims -
declaring: all professional athletes
are eligible for the Olympics.
No points are given for being oldest;
Oscar Swahn holds that record I notice -
sharp shooter from Sweden, nineteen twenty,
had six wins at age two plus seventy.
At the age of fourteen, Comaneci
Romania’s gym team grand honoree
became the first female competitor
to achieve a “ten” as a perfect score.
Michael Phelps, from the U.S.A. swim team
in two thousand –four, -eight, and –twelve had dreams.
He owns the fame of most medals bar none -
two bronze, two silver and eighteen golds won.
There is no cash prize ‘til winners come home
when from deep recesses appears a gnome
with stipends from that country’s own OC.
But commercial endorsements pay plenty.
For this winter’s events, Russia is host
Their expense was great, but no more than most.
One report says fifty-million dollars;
much is new, up and down Sochi’s hollers.
The Torch Race this year, the longest ever,
touching much of Russia, was quite clever.
It dipped in a lake, scaled a mountain’s face,
hit the North Pole and then out into space.
Op’ning night showed earth as a backdrop grand
on which athletes emerged from their homeland.
As always Greece is first in the parade;
the host nation is the last one displayed.
This year seven nations made their debut -
interest in Winter Games does accrue.
Two thousand, eight hundred, fifty athletes
from eighty-eight sep’rate nations compete.
Each four year cycle adds competitions -
both men’s and women’s highest ambitions.
This year - ski half-pipe, risky by the way,
snowboarding slope style and luge team relay.
This year finds fifteen winter disciplines
starting with a new one, sports medicine.
Back up, dear reader, my mind is obsessed.
unlike “Spartan” athletes” – I speak in jest.
Two-thousand sixteen, Summer Games – Brazil
in a fair shake won the bid and the bill.
Far ahead of the game in ideas
the coming Winter Games are Korea’s.
IOC offers the test of all tests
with medals to mark the best of the best.
Let the games begin, may they never stop
ushering global goodwill to the top.
Poet Other Poems
- A Child Is Born
- A Film on the Water
- Austin (senryu)
- Autumn Music
- Between Me and My Mirror
- blooming marigolds (haibun)
- bridges burned
- Don't Lie to Yourself
- Evening Prayer
- Great Granny's Blessing
- green turns to red
- Hands of Hope
- Helois and Selene
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Poet's Notes about The Poem
http: //didyouknow.org/olympics/http: //www.care2.com/greenliving/sochi-winter-olympics-2014-test-your-olympic-knowledge-quiz.html? page=2