Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Dreams

Another Olympic Games is underway and here I am watching the opening ceremonies and a lot of mixed feelings are coming over me. First of sadness, for the death of Georgian luge athlete, Nodar Kumaritashvili. Then of regret as the games are so close to home, I had an opportunity to take part, but couldn't.

Every young boy and girl who sees the Olympic Games dreams of one day representing their country at the games and winning that illusive gold medal. I had aspirations when I first saw the Olympics on television in 1992, but I felt like I never really had an opportunity to start young enough in a sport and work hard to achieve the highest level. So instead, I gardened, grew plants and tried to achieve other goals.

While athletes will be vying for one of these:

I should be vying for one of these:

This is the Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal. Chelsea is considered the world's GREATEST flower show and highly coveted by those who enter. Entries come from around the world and I've actually had dreams of exhibiting at Chelsea. Before even thinking about this medal, I actually need to see the show in person!

One medal I could certainly work towards is one I actually saw awarded in person:

NWFGS Gold Medal

Still, there's nothing like the honor of an Olympic medal. Every four years you're lucky to even get a chance to compete for one. And if you work hard and succeed, you stand on a podium, hold a bouquet of flowers (which I think I admired more than the actual medals when I first saw them on TV!!) and hear your nation's anthem. You have crowds cheering for you and a flood of emotions comes over you as you watch your country's flag raised.

Speaking of flowers, I've also fantasized that one day I could design the victory bouquets at an Olympic Games. It certainly has its caveats, but it's still an honor to be asked to make them. Here's a compelling story on the designers for the Vancouver games who won the bid, but faced some strict critiques from the organizing committee (read this other article here):

June Strandberg, florist for the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Click on the photo for a video of the unveiled bouquet.

I personally would have kept the irises and used the native vegetation of the Pacific Northwest rather than using Hypericums and Aspidistra imported from Ecuador.

Even though I never made it as an athlete, the Games continue to inspire me as the world comes together for something so grand. Human stories begin to unfold and the long road many of these athletes have traveled to reach this level should push us to work just as hard so we can follow our passions and achieve our goals and aspirations in life.

As a figure skating commentator once said of the great Michelle Kwan, "Success isn't always measured by a gold medal"



  1. Love this post Riz. Like your direction. I'll keep my eyes open for you. Am going to see Swedish women play Slovenia (hockey). Dream big.

  2. Looking forward to seeing you at Chelsea!