Since his sudden and tragic passing in April, Randy Starkman’s Olympics Blog has faithfully remained in the top left spot of my computer’s web browser favourites page. That it has not been replaced with another, more frequently viewed site is surprising. But given that I went to his site for my Olympic sport news everyday for years, I suppose it could be expected. Just recently the site went blank, a moment that I knew was coming, but it saddened me all the same as I was reminded then that Randy really is gone and I can’t rely on him for my Olympic fix this time around.
We’d all grown to rely on Randy for his insight, inside scoop and eloquent storytelling of Olympic Canadiana and it seems unjust, and impossible even, that in London his voice will be silent and his written words absent from the media landscape he painstakingly carved for himself, and for us.
Now, instead of opening my browser and checking his site automatically, I find myself seeking and reading blogs and articles in the paper written by the athletes themselves, current and former alike, telling their stories with their own voices; personal dispatches from the field. Adam VanKoeverden, Clara Hughes, Jenn Heil and so many more have taken to the written word as a way to express and share the truth as they live it.
With Randy’s memory in my heart I will attempt to do the same – use my voice to spread stories from the Games, albeit from a distance, and offer unique perspectives and insights into the awe inspiring events that are about to unfold. If anything, Randy’s legacy, while obviously felt most strongly among the media he influenced so profoundly, can also be found in what I suspect he would have been most proud of – the large pool of talented writers among those athletes he once cared so much about.
On the eve of the world’s greatest sporting event, I feel growing excitement and anticipation for what is to come. This will be my first authentic armchair Games experience, now just a former athlete myself. In the three Olympic Games I competed in, I never had the experience of finishing competition early enough to become a spectator towards the end of the Games and watching the summer games as an athlete was always tempered by my intense training regimen. Now I can watch everything I please with a clear mind and soak up the beauty that is sport.
Even as my own life inches farther and farther away from the world of high performance sport I still get goose bumps, lumps in my throat and tears in my eyes as I witness the world’s greatest athletes put their hearts on the line. We are powerless to avoid seeing little parts of ourselves within these sporting heroes and submit easily to the joy and heartache they experience on the field of play.
Sport is one of the world’s greatest capacities for human connection. From it emerge the most gripping and compelling moments that remind us how powerful simple, peaceful competition and the pursuit of excellence can be. Amidst the worldwide hardships and conflicts, the Olympic Games offer a respite from the bad news overload and an excuse to celebrate the coming together of the best athletes in the world, if only for 16 days.
Over the next two weeks, I wish for London, and the world, to absorb and enjoy the games to the greatest extent possible – to be inspired, awed and overwhelmed by what is sure to be a memorable and captivating Olympics.
That is what Randy would have wanted.