With the opening ceremony for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi just a couple of days away, the world is buzzing about anything and everything that it involves. There is the usual chatter about the favorite athletes in each field and the inspiring stories of athletes who defeated all odds to make it to the world stage.
This year, as many of us have noticed, there's a little more chatter than usual about the host country and city. Gay rights, suspicious financial activity and civil wars surrounding the area are just a few of the problems on the minds of the athletes and spectators.
Behind every jump, spin and flip we see at the Olympics is a person with a story. Thankfully, this leaves us with many inspiring moments that remind us why the Olympics takes place.
With so much negative energy focused on the 2014 Winter Olympics, let's take a moment to appreciate what people are saying about the positive side of this year's event.
The Jamaican bobsled team has made headlines twice already, and the Olympics hasn't even started. First, the team beat the odds and qualified for the Olympics. However, they didn't have the funds to get themselves there. With the help of fans, fellow Jamaican citizens and others just wanting to see the team have the chance that they earned, a crowdfunding campaign raised more than enough money to get the team to Sochi.
The team just faced its latest struggle of arriving at the airport in Sochi and its equipment never showing up. The team missed an important day of practice, but every cloud has a silver lining.
"We have a lot guys who's going to help us. They want to help us," Winston Watts of the Jamaican bobsled team told USA Today about other teams willing to lend them equipment. This is the type of international relationship that the Olympics is meant to foster.
Jamaica's bobsled team lost all their gear in transit. Don't watch the Winter Games if you want the end of Cool Runnings 2 to be a surprise.— Scott Dooley (@scottdools) February 5, 2014
There has been no shortage of Cool Runnings jokes, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. Thankfully, the latest word is that the equipment has arrived in Sochi.
Another inspiring story came from Tracy and Lanny Barnes, twins who were both competing for a spot on the U.S. biathlon team. On the day of the final qualifying event, Lanny fell too ill to compete. After an amazing showing, Tracy made the team. Lanny was the first person in line if anyone dropped out.
At age 31, the twins knew this was likely their last shot at competing at the Olympics. As Tracy told ESPN, "It was the biggest decision of my life but it was an easy decision." Tracy had given up her position so that her twin could compete. Tracy believes that Lanny is the stronger athlete and would be a bigger help for the team. Lanny disagrees. However, the two switched positions, and the story has gone viral.
The media has captured the sentiments of people all over the country.
This is another story that is connecting athletes from other countries with one another. Lizzy Yarnold, a skeleton athlete from Great Britain is one of many Olympians touched by the story.
Worth a read, the sacrifice of a twin and the importance of the Olympics. http://t.co/I4ne4ezINc— Lizzy Yarnold (@TheYarnold) January 14, 2014
It's hard to talk about these Olympics without mentioning the LGBT community. Caitlin Cahow is part of the U.S. delegation to Sochi. She is an openly gay former Olympic hockey player. She won bronze in 2006 and silver in 2010. She isn't competing this year.
Hockey player/law school student @OchoCahow thought she retired from Olympics. Not so fast.Great pick for presidential delegation— Kelly Whiteside (@KellyWhiteside) December 17, 2013
When she received the call, she said she was surprised and elated. Cahow told NBC that she was proud to be representing the diversity from the U.S. Even knowing she could be in danger going to Russia as an openly gay athlete from the United States, Cahow didn't quiver.
Cahow said in the same interview with NBC,
The great thing about the Olympics is that every two years we get the opportunity not only to be inspired by amazing human achievement, but to hold the mirror up to our own faces and say what can we be doing better?
She represents the qualities that spectators love to attach to athletes from their countries: humbleness, bravery and self-pride. She's a role model to all those watching on and off the rink.
Cahow's story isn't different from the others; her story is helping connect athletes from different countries. This time, it is former Canadian hockey player, Caroline Ouellette.
Incredibly smart, heartfelt and courageous interview by Caitlin Cahow. Upmost respect for you http://t.co/IdCc5u4CLR— Caroline Ouellette (@couellette13) November 18, 2013
These are just three of the countless inspiring moments that are happening because of the 2014 Winter Olympics. When the politics get you down about the event this year, just remember the people and how they got there. It will never fail to make you fall back in love with the Olympics.
The countdown is almost over. More stories will be made and told during all of these events. Opening ceremonies are Friday, February 7.