Maasai Gold

August 10, 2012 § 2 Comments

Just when I think my enthusiasm for the Olympics might be waning, something happens that fires me up.

Of course, just witnessing what the human body is capable of is pretty incredible. It runs faster, jumps higher year after year. Being a swimmer myself, I’m always especially riveted by the swimming ~ and the superhuman Michael Phelps just plants a big smile on my face. The very watchable, adorable gymnast Gabby Douglas was amazing, and the volleyball looks like tons of fun. The background stories of so many of these champions ~ and they are all champions ~ are fascinating. Even the commercials are good. (The Superbowl should take note.) Then came track and Usain Bolt, who continued to wow us. The women runners were equally fabulous, and then I thought I’d seen, well …enough.

But I happened to turn on the tube when the men’s 800 meter race was about to start, tuning in just as they were telling the story of Kenyan runner David Rudisha, and my heart smiled again.

I have a thing for Kenya, you see. I must have had some wonderful experience there in another life, because in this one, even as a child, it was one of the places I truly, truly wanted to see. The first line of “Out of Africa” always felt strangely familiar; making the call grow stronger. In 1990, I made that dream come true.

Let me just say that seeing giraffes in the wild melted my heart. Sleeping to the sound of hippos and the distant growls of cats; elephants walking up to my camera lens, ballooning over the Maasai Mara……  I absolutely loved it. We also met some wonderful people, among them members of the Samburu tribe, cousins to the Maasai. Same great height, stature and grace. Warm spirits, beautiful smiles, colorfully attired ~ and holy moly can they jump high. Their athleticism is undeniable … and so, I adored hearing David Rudisha’s story. (How can you not be good when you build your own track in the hard African dirt?) Then I cheered him on, yelling at the tv, clapping, woo-hooing.

I want to go back to Kenya, very much. But for now, it was a little thrill to watch this Maasai make his mark in the history books, the first of his tribe to win gold in the Olympics ~ and doing it with the flourish of new world record time.

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