I was skeptical. It was the Zika and all the other stories about what was wrong in Brazil. Even the opening ceremonies—those commercial-heavy hours of disjointed coverage we were given—did not leave me with good feelings about what was to come.
And then it happened. The best of humanity showed up and stole the show. People from all walks of life came together. Competitors
cheered for one another and hugged one another. Records were broken. Americans showed up and showed the world what is amazing about our country... and (spoiler alert) it ain't politics.
I've cried watching the anthem being played honoring the athletes—black, white, Hispanic; men and women, young and old, repeat winners and new medalists. These are people who come from all walks of life; those who came from privilege, those who came from poverty. What they have in common is their love of their sport, their ability to persevere. Overcoming illnesses and hardships, striving to get here, to this stage. Social media has been used in the best way possible, to provide support and love and encouragement and bring people together and bring Leslie Jones to Rio to be a commentator on the games.
There was a moment in the women's gymnastics team competition, when Laurie Hernandez was about to get on the balance beam to start her routine. She took a deep breath and I saw her lips move, "you've got this." There was Michael Phelps talking about hitting rock bottom before bouncing back up to achieve greatness. There was Kayla Harrison literally kicking ass in Judo for a back-to-back win. There was Simone Manuel on the podium, listening to the national anthem played for her, and the moment when that reality sunk in. I cried with her.
I needed this Olympics to remind me that we are a country who stand together.