Jun 25, 201202:18 PMOutside Columbia
Come Outside And Play, Columbia!
Olympic – and Other – Ramblings
The summer Olympics start in 32 days. For some events, such as the marathon, Team USA has been decided for months. For other sports, however, the trials are currently underway. For example, our own Amanda Dunne competes in the 5K trials tonight in Eugene, Oregon. Yesterday, 2008 silver medalist and shot putter Christian Cantwell earned his ticket to London alongside shot putters Reese Hoffa and Ryan Whiting.
There’s also another (albeit distant) CoMo connection: Amanda Beard, ex-girlfriend of Carl Edwards, will compete in the 200-meter breaststroke in an attempt to make her fourth Olympic team.
I recently finished Beard’s book, In the Water They Can’t See You Cry, which was published in April. I’m a big fan of sports memoirs, particularly those by women. And I’ve noticed that many female athlete-authors tend to follow a certain path: they’re super competitive as pre-teens, they hit puberty, their bodies change, they gain weight, they struggle with self-esteem, have relationship issues, but eventually they meet Prince Charming and all is right with the world; in many cases they even make an unlikely athletic comeback (think Dara Torres’ three medals in Beijing at the age of 41). Beard’s story is no different, although, perhaps, her path is more dramatic than most -- in the struggles with self-esteem category, she experiments with drugs, bulimia and cutting, all while modeling for magazines such as Maxim and Playboy.
Chapter 9 will be of interest to Columbians. That’s where she introduces Edwards. As a Columbian, I was particularly curious what’d she say in this section. It starts off well:
“I instantly liked Carl. He was sweet and funny. A well-mannered man, but not so gentlemanly that I didn’t get to experience our very, very real chemistry. Everything went so well between us that first weekend, he invited me to join him the following weekend in Phoenix for a race. A huge fan of NASCAR, I love the sound and smells of the sport, so I said yes. Right after that, he said, he wanted me to fly home with him to meet his family.”
Ten pages later, the tone has changed:
“About six months into our relationship, everything that had been so much fun at first was wearing very thin. I was so much a part of Carl’s life that I had completely abandoned my own. I didn’t want to twiddle my thumbs in his RV anymore, and flying to meet him at various racetracks around the country started to feel more of a chore than a treat.”
That’s actually among her less bitter statements (the book is available at the public library if you’d like to read more). I won’t get any more into it, except to say that thank goodness they’ve both moved on to happier times, and props to Edwards for handling Beard’s unexpected bashing with grace.
Anyways, back to the Olympics. Check out our July issue for a complete history of Olympians with ties to mid-Missouri (Beard, however, did not make the cut for that article). Columbia’s presence at the Olympics goes back so far that we couldn’t find a photo of tennis sensation Joseph Charles from the 1904 St. Louis Games. Fortunately, we were able to contact many recent participants who were eager to share their Olympic experiences. The resulting feature is a 12-page, 35-athlete, 108-year timeline that’s sure to make you proud of CoMo’s athletic prowess – and get you excited for this summer’s London Games.