The Harbinger Online

Falling Short of an Olympian


If sitting on my couch watching world class athletes compete against each other didn’t already make me feel bad enough about myself, 13-year-old swimmer Gaurika Singh made me feel like a true underachiever. Singh was the youngest athlete this year in the 2016 Rio Olympics, returning to Nepal to start ninth grade this fall.

Man, the only thing I have on her is that I don’t have to live with braces anymore.

She swam a 100m backstroke on the second day of the Olympics in 1:08:45 and won her heat. That’s about how long it takes me to microwave three Eggo waffles for myself at 1:00 p.m. on a Saturday.

Even more disappointing, 19-year-old American gymnast Simone Biles — I’m sure we’ve all heard about her accomplishments — is currently sporting four gold medals around her neck after this year’s games. And here I am flaunting my $60 Kendra Scott necklace I finally saved up for after sacrificing many weekends to babysitting – my collegiate sport.

Not only does she have 24 total grams of gold on her, but she was provided with eight $500, one-of-a-kind leotards that took 18 months to properly engineer. The damage that my back-to-school shopping causes is only about one thirteenth of that. And even then, almost all the things I get are also owned by 60 percent of the girls I know.

If my self esteem hadn’t already completely diminished, China’s Ren Qian won a gold medal in women’s diving and she’s a year younger than me, at 15-years-old. She sealed the deal by doing a perfect backwards 3½ pike off the 10m platform. I mean it’s trouble enough for me to roll onto my side in my bed, and she does three and a half flips in the air while touching her toes. To make things worse for my confidence, Qian plans on studying law AND forensic medicine after the Olympics. Jeez.

Just to further emphasize my unimportance, here’s one more dignity-shattering, young Olympian: 16-year-old Sydney McLaughlin. She’s an American track and field runner who specializes in the 400m hurdles event. She can clear 33-inch hurdles like I can clear a plate of nachos. McLaughlin, like the others, can do amazing things that I cannot, but I guess it’s cool to watch her while I procrastinate on Calculus.

The list of these ridiculous teenage superhumans goes on, only making me and the rest of the average teenage population feel worse about our problematic Netflix addictions.

So maybe I can’t execute a flawless back handspring-double-layout half twist, swim 800m of freestyle or run 400m in 56.22 seconds but that’s also because I haven’t committed my entire life to being an Olympian like all these teenagers have. Instead my accomplishments are completing Netflix original, “Stranger Things,” in a record two days and being able to finish a pint of Ben and Jerry’s in nine minutes.

To get where they are, these Olympians sacrificed every Friday night with their friends and have instead spent the night at the gym, the track or the pool. What these kids do is impressive, to be straightforward. Maybe even more impressive than me occasionally being able to solve a Rubik’s Cube, but I think that’s still pretty cool.

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