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San Clemente Journal

Down Along the Sunset

May 06, 2005 08:38PM ● By Don Kindred
Swifter, Higher, Stronger
By Coach Benner Commings
When the original Olympic Games were held in Greece in 776 BC, they were to take place every four years thereafter. The victors received a green or golden olive wreath, a small assortment of cash and prestige.

In 1896 the games were reintroduced by the Frenchman, de Coubertin, with some 241 male athletes participating. The 2008 Beijing Olympics presented an incredible 11,000 male and female athletes from 204 nations. There were 302 events - 160 for men, and 127 for women with beautiful medallions of gold, silver and bronze plate awarded. The winged victory Nike was on the front side with Chinese jade enclosing the back. Jade is considered a ‘Stone of Heaven’ by the Chinese. Much earlier, all Olympic first place victory medals were of purest gold. Today they are sterling silver with several grams of gold on the outer coating surface for event winners. 

The USA, once again, was strong in the Olympic events of swimming, gymnastics, basketball and track. But diving and distance swimming need continued improvement. 
On the local level the CIF might consider a 1,000 yard swim in their championships to further this progress. To start our youth in middle school to swim slower and farther, then move progressively to faster paced conditions as they grow older. Mission Viejo’s local swim club had several swimmers trying out for the Beijing Olympic open water 10-kilometers (06.21 miles) swim. 

In the London Olympics of 2012, there is talk of adding an additional 15 kilometers open water swim race to the program. Perhaps, too, the eye-catching sport of surfing will finally become a part of future Olympics and the Pan American Games as well. Younger gremmies might begin training towards becoming a part of this possible new Olympic sport. The International Olympic Committee, Surfing, ASP and FINA must eventually come together in the support of this colorful sport. The London Olympics of 2012 might prove too early for these associations to sanction such an event. If not 2012, perhaps 2016 … why not? 

Competition does present its challenges! Still, witness the multi honors of our Olympic swimming, gymnastics, water-polo, wrestling, track, basketball, volleyball and baseball. Our USA medal count substantiates the philosophy that hard intelligent conditioning does accomplish things! 

In a nation of 304 some million, we produced about 40 women and 60 plus men that can be ranked as ‘world class’ athletes. By comparison of population and resources, at least 5 nations appeared to be doing almost as well - Germany, Great Britain, Australia, France and the Netherlands. With the outstanding performances of gifted American swimmer Michael Phelps and the ‘Golden Arrow’ of Jamaica, sprinter, Usain Bolt, one has to ask, “Whence will come others like them? Maybe in 50 years? 

Hello to the coming London Olympic Games of 2012 and a closing salute to China with its 41 billion dollar Beijing Olympic Games success. Could this Olympics have presented the ascendance of another awakening world economic giant?

In closing, perhaps the Olympic Creed says it all. “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered, but to have fought well.” 

Skateboarder Ryan Sheckler of San Clemente is ranking again among America’s best! 

Chris Ward is using his surfing skills to topple other greats of surfing, while often unsung Dane Gudaukas with personal drive and desire is mastering closed-out waves. Hard working Sunny Garcia, the Gudaukas brothers, Davis brothers, Long brothers, Dane Ward, Kelohe Andino, Riley Metcalf, Ian Crane, Nate Yeomans, Mike Losness, Scott Brandenburg and Marissa Shaw, are making San Clemente a strong name in California’s surfing world with their classic power surfing efforts.