The Summer Olympics always fall in a leap year, and people more or less give away their ages when they mention their earliest Olympic memories. For me, it is the Tokyo Olympics of 1964. I remember being glued to my family's black-and-white TV.
The Tokyo Games were also the event that made "ultra-C" a household expression, and it has even found its way into Japanese dictionaries.
From what I have heard, the expression derived from the maneuvers the Japanese men's gymnastics team developed in secret prior to the Games. Back then, the technical difficulty levels in gymnastics were rated A, B and C, with C the most difficult. "Ultra-C," then, referred to the ultimate, most difficult maneuvers, beyond even Level C.
Over the last 48 years, the difficulty levels have been expanded to D, E, F and even G. Out-of-shape middle-aged men of my generation can only gape in awe at all the amazing gymnastics maneuvers of today's athletes.
Performing at the highest G-level in London, Kohei Uchimura, 23, won the men's individual all-around final. Gymnastics used to be Japan's forte, but Uchimura's gold medal is the first since Koji Gushiken won his at the Los Angeles Olympics 28 years ago.
Four years ago in Beijing, Uchimura ended up with a silver. He was quoted then as saying, "Since this is a different color (from gold), I don't think I have lived up to the tradition yet. That will be my challenge at London four years from now."
He succeeded in getting the "right color" this time, and his triumph has ended Japan's long gold-medal drought in that event.
The glitter of the gold medal is for none but the victor. Of course, silver and bronze medals are also respectable, but essentially, every competition produces only one winner and many losers. The way Uchimura's strong gold-medal performance shone reminded me of this fact.
With their minds and bodies trained and disciplined to the utmost, Olympic athletes are performing every day in London, on the stage of their dreams that comes around only once every four years. Winners shine, but beautiful, too, are the losers who have done their best. Their intensity inspires all those who watch.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Aug. 3
* * *
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a popular daily column that takes up a wide range of topics, including culture, arts and social trends and developments. Written by veteran Asahi Shimbun writers, the column provides useful perspectives on and insights into contemporary Japan and its culture.
- « Prev
- Next »