Passing of the Torch

By Shari Wright Pilo

In the summer of 2008, my then four-year-old daughter MJ and I traveled to Canada to visit my mother. It rained for 19 of the 21 days of our visit.

Luckily we had the Olympics to keep us occupied. By the end of the visit, MJ had taught herself how to do the splits and a good cartwheel.

One afternoon, MJ told me “Ima I am going to be the best gymnast. I am going to the Olympics! Will you cheer for me?”

As soon as we got home to Modi’in, I registered her in a gymnastics program. I became a soccer (gymnastics) mom.

Olympic Games 2020 Team Israel

I have fond Olympics memories from when I was a child. They come from great family moments. I want MJ to love watching the games as I have, to be in awe of the athletes as I am; to support them, to cheer them on, to cry with them, and to respect them.

MJ, this is for you!

I was four during the 1968 Olympic Games. The kitchen radio was constantly announcing updates of records and medals from Mexico, as my parents went about their daily routines. I ran around the house breaking records in the 100m dash and performing equestrian routines over the couch pillows.

I was old enough to vividly remember the events that took place at the 1972 Olympic Games. I was scared. My parents, particularly my mother, tried to make it easier on me by reminding me over and over again that Mark Spitz was a nice Jewish boy with 7 gold medals.

Nevertheless, the gruesome memories remained.

As a Canadian girl growing up in a hockey-loving family, the winter Olympics were big at home. I remember watching epic ice hockey games between Russia, Canada and the USA. My favorite was figure skating, watching Toller Cranston and his amazing axels.

My father was a school teacher, and he always found interesting ways to supplement the family’s income. Some summers he drove a cab, but leading up to the 1976 Summer Olympic Games in Montreal, he sold Canadian Olympic lottery tickets. I enjoyed going on his “route” with him, adventuring out to the other side of the city. We watched the Queen open the games in her eloquent soft-spoken way. We celebrated Nadia Comaneci and her perfect 10.

What remains etched in my mind the most though, is seeing the Israeli team walk in with the black banner of mourning on the beautiful blue and white flag.

In 1980, I watched the games with my new Israeli friends at Kibbutz Nitzanim. I spent the summer in Israel on the Canadian Young Judaea’s summer program Biluim Israel. Amazingly, we watched some of the Moscow games on TV, even though friends back at home would not be watching due to the boycott.

In 2004, I gave birth to a baby girl. I watched Team Canada and Team Israel while breastfeeding on the couch. I jumped up and down with my 5-kilo bundle of joy when Gal Fridman won Israel’s first Olympic Gold medal, and stood at attention when Hatikva was played. I will never forget that moment.

Here we are in 2012 – the Summer Olympic Games are less than a month away. I started to look for ways to get MJ into the Olympic vibe. We decided to learn about the various events Israeli athletes are competing in, with emphasis on the gymnastics team. We’ve planned viewing parties with friends and a Team Israel t-shirt design afternoon!

The games provide fantastic suspense, exhilarating shared experiences, emotional moments and positive role models.

I urge you to have fun this summer watching the games, make it family fun (it’s good TV) and support Team Israel as they go for the gold in blue and white style!

About Shari Wright Pilo

Shari Wright Pilo is the Marketing Manager at Hunter and Bard Digital Marketing Agency. Prior to joining Hunter and Bard, Ms. Wright Pilo was as a digital marketing consultant working with small businesses and internet startups. Previously, she was the Marketing Manager and Web Producer for My Stone Company, an online gift store. Outside of Hunter & Bard, Ms. Wright Pilo loves finding new exciting web applications that will make her online life “faster”, cooking, and baking (they are not the same). Shari made aliyah from Canada 30 years ago on her own. Today, she is married to an Israeli and is the mother of an 8-year-old gymnast who dreams about going to the Olympics in 2024.

You can follow Shari on Twitter @shari_pw