Here & there: Russia, Russia, Russia

Image courtesy of Pixabay, St. George News

OPINION — Russia.  Russia.  Russia.

I tsk my finger at you … with my hand on my hip.

Zeke Dayton, third from right, marches in with the other tumbling finalists during the World Age Group Competition in Bulgaria. Armeec Arena. Sofia, Bulgaria. November 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of Kat Dayton., St. George News

You annexed Crimea out of the blue. Robert Mueller is investigating your interference in the 2016 U.S. Elections. You are testing a missile called “Satan 2” (that can’t be good). And now the International Olympic Committee is banning you from competing in the upcoming winter Olympics for systematic and state-sponsored doping during the last winter Olympics – back when you were the host.

This isn’t an exhaustive list of misdeeds by any stretch. It’s simply the low hanging fruit.

Russia, I’m not quite sure what to do with you.  The mother in me wants to bend you over my knee and spank you, if I believed in spanking. Or if I thought that would even register with you after being ruled by a man who is accused of bombing his own people so he could “solve” the crime and increase his popularity.

But it would feel good to spank you for being a bully, for being a manipulator – and for the latest misdeed of robbing your athletes of the chance to represent their country at the Olympics.

Clearly, I have some spanking lust here.  That’s the problem with spanking. I apologize. But not to Russia.

Zeke Dayton, center, receives instructions from the international panel of judges prior to preliminary completion. Athletes from Great Britain and the Russian Federation also pictured. Armeec Arena. Sofia, Bulgaria. November 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of Kat Dayton, St. George News

Not that the latest offensive is the greatest, but it strikes home for me. Again, the whole mother thing. You see, I’m the mother of an elite athlete; an elite gymnast to be precise.

I know firsthand the sacrifices these athletes make: the commuting, the long practice hours, the injuries, the rehabilitation, the homework in the car and late at night, the hangout time missed with friends and the dances missed with cute girls from Language Arts.

Three weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Sofia, Bulgaria, to watch this athlete of mine compete as a member of the U.S. Team at the World Age Group Trampoline & Tumbling Competition. Think Junior Olympics for that division of gymnastics.

Not only did he compete, but my son won the bronze medal in his age group for tumbling. At age 14, in his first international competition. It was thrilling. And I cried, obviously. I’m pretty sure his dad did too. But that may have been because our boy bested four Russians. And Russians have been dominant in the sport.

But even more thrilling than seeing him succeed in his event was the thrill of seeing my son compete for his country. For our country.

I think of myself as patriotic but this was something else.

Zeke Dayton and U.S Assistant National Tumbling Coach Becky Brown celebrate after his bronze-winning pass at World Age Group Competition. Armeec Arena. Sofia, Bulgaria. November 15, 2017. Photo courtesy of Kat Dayton, St. George News

Each time my son stepped up to the end-blue competition spring floor, hands chalked and nerves whizzing, he was announced by name and by country:  Zeke Dayton representing the United States of America. Then, his headshot and the American flag would appear on the Jumbotron above.

And each time that announcement was made, I felt an electric pulse of pride course through my body that was beyond pride in him as my son. It was red, white and blue. I swear I saw it course through him too.

Although the International Olympic Committee ruling allows for “clean” Russian athletes to compete under the neutral Olympic Flag, it’s not the same thing. And the Russian athletes know it.

Russian ski jumper Irina Avvakumova is quoted in the Russian-sponsored RT news as saying, “I do not know how other athletes will react, but I did not prepare for so many years to just go and compete without representing my country.”

CNN reports that two-time world figure skating champion Evgenia Medvedeva isn’t sure if she will compete under the neutral flag. Of her home country, she said: “It gives strength and inspires me during the performances.”

Medvedeva was 12 during the last Olympics. She didn’t dope. She didn’t cheat.

She did, however, train and push and miss out on a thousand little things that make a childhood with the promise from her country that she could represent them – if she was good enough. And now, they’ve failed her.

So maybe I will make an exception, Mr. Putin, and spank you.  For that, and a hundred other things.

Kat Dayton is a columnist for St. George News, any opinions given are her own and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected] | [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • hoaganp December 10, 2017 at 8:37 pm

    Well done Zeke and congratulations on your success and representing our country with honor! And I give a big pat on the back to your parents for getting you to all of those practices and for all of the sacrifices they have made to help you get there.

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