Gabby yes! Bite that big gold medal all you want! And her coach, that goofy looking Chinese guy!  Give him an oversized Olympic medal to chew on too!

Excuse the exclamation marks, above and below.  The Olympics are just so exciting, even when, due to an illegally rigged cable connection being discovered and disabled, one must watch events on the 2-day delay known as youtube.  Exciting!

Everything worth saying about Gabby has been said by the mighty Crunk Feminist collective, here and here.  I’m just making a friendly amendment, a little something  about her coach, Liang Chow. And yes, it is mere coincidence that I’m writing about the goofy looking Chinese guy.

When Gabby medaled at the U.S. nationals a month ago, the Poughkeepsie Journal noted that Coach Chow rushed the podium to take pictures with a camera in each hand, one set for himself and the other for Gabby’s mother.  I like that Coach knew just the right physiology and psychology to turn a great vault into an Olympic gold medal vault, but had not yet figured out how to send digital photos through the interwebs.

And what was that psychology that Coach laid on Gabby? Not “You’re the greatest, number one, top dog, dog!”  Not “See the blond ponytail out to steal your glory? Stomp her!” Not “Don’t screw up.” (That last one was/is my father’s motivational speech for just about everything. Though he adds, because he is a kind man, “But if you do, make it look natural.”)

It was to teach her that world-class gymnastics isn’t merely a matter of technique, but rather letting others feel your joy as you compete.

Now how awesome is that?

And wow did she deliver. One columnist nailed it, perfect 10, when he described Gabby’s gold medal performance in the all-around as “one of those special public exhibitions of athletic joy.”  That joy bursts across the screen, even with the youtube video stop-and-go-ing on a jumpy internet connection.

I am now going to tell a truth that may be crushing to us queerfitters who still harbor hopes of making it to the Olympics.  Actually, if that’s you, stop reading immediately and I’ll just see you tomorrow.  The rest of us, well, unless one of us holds a passport from Liechenstein and has the cash to buy a national sailing team or a prancing horse, none of us are ever going to compete in the Olympics. We’re never going to be Gabby.  It’s just not going to happen.

But we can be Gabby-esque.  Do as Coach says: Let others feel your joy when you’re being your best badass self.

Coach is not, I think, saying we should strive to radiate joy while we’re picking out radishes or trying to get out of the exit-only lanes at the Grady curve. That would be weird, unless you’re the Dalai Lama or the indomitable L’Erin of Sisterfire. But there is something that we are each very good at, and putting in the work to get better still. Running.  Writing. Raising your kids. Patching people up after they tear/break/tweak something. Flamenco.  Playing the accordion. Making pies.

It’s true! You are very good at something. You are in fact so good at it that you keep doing it just so you can be great at it.  And you want to be great at it so that someday you’ll be awesome at it.

The pre-Chow Gabby was, according to the quick lore that’s sprung up around her, a bundle of nerves who more than once wilted under pressure.  Then she moved to Iowa to train with Coach Chow, who had to figure out how to take Gabby’s game from really really good to the best in the world. To get from A to B, Coach did not tell Gabby, Have fun, girl!  He said OK, once more.  Which, translated into language you and I can understand, means, Work like a muthaf*cker and then work some more and then when you are about to fall out, once more.

Once more, because when you’re trying to fly, merely jumping really high won’t do. Once more, so that when it’s time to be your badass self, you can just cruise, as Coach Chow says, and let others feel your joy.

The question when we circle up tomorrow to stretch is going to be, What’s your Olympic gold medal event?  Put a different way, what is that thing  you do (or one day will do) with such greatness and joy that we, your fans, will break into wild applause and toss petals at your feet?  What is you being your best bad-ass self?

Think on it, you fabulous queerfitters. See you tomorrow!