It’s official! The opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics will kick off in London tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT) and honestly, the timing is just right. After all, couldn’t we use a distraction from what’s been going on? A positive distraction, that is.

Unless you’ve been hiding beneath a tree to escape the record-high temperatures, you must be sensing the tension, too. It’s everywhere. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve borne witness to some rather trying situations — that most-horrific massacre that occurred in Colorado last Friday, the never-ending tragedy that is Penn State, the ongoing political mud-slinging sessions and, on a pop culture note, the cross-generational in-fighting that’s happening over at the Jackson compound… There’s been so much to process lately that it takes a special kind of courage to sit through the evening news. I, for one, need a break.
Although I’m not the world’s most avid sports fan, I do enjoy the Olympics, and as a lover of all things warm weather-related I’m always down for the summer games. There will be so many competitions, so many scores to keep tabs on, and oh-so-many lovely, sculpted bodies to admire — from the swimmers and the track-and-fielders to the b’ballers and the wrestlers and the cyclists and yes, even the ever-dashing Prince Harry! And while there will certainly be no shortage of eye candy on display, I am still a tween girl at heart, which means — you guessed it! — I shall be glued to the screen for the gymnastics competitions. More on that in a sec…

Now that I have gotten better acquainted with this year’s selection of hunky specimens, I’ve committed myself to getting fully up-to-speed on athletic stats and the much-publicized rivalries (go Phelps!) before the 70-day Olympic torch relay ends and the cauldron is lit. My reference guides are Sports Illustrated as well as Time magazine’s Summer Olympics special issue. Speaking of Time, have you seen gymnast Gabby Douglas on the cover, and in the accompanying photos, just jumping and leaping and stretching and giving it her all? She’s posing — proudly and powerfully — alongside her fellow teammates on the SI cover, too! Whoa. Talk about discipline and dedication. Not to put too much pressure on the young lady, as she’s only 16, but I’m going to need her to take a deep breath, do her thing and bring home some shiny medal.  

I look forward to seeing Ms. Gabby and every other athlete, from each and every country, compete, but I should just come clean about my tendency to get a bit squeamish during sporting events. Though many years have passed, I’ve still not fully recovered from witnessing my beloved Greg Louganis hit his head on the diving board back in the day — live, and then in constant instant replays. He did go on to win gold that year, but since then I tend to hold my breath whenever I’m internally cheering for one of my favorite sports stars. That sounds crazy, I know, but at the end of the day, it really is quite beautiful to watch someone tap into their power as they live out their Olympic dreams before the world. Who could be mad?

So with all that said, let the games begin. Go Team USA!

Click here for complete Summer 2012 Olympic coverage. 

Regina R. Robertson is West Coast Editor of ESSENCE. Follow her on Twitter @reginarobertson.

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