Penn Medicine News Blog

July 22, 2016 // By Lee-Ann Donegan // Comments

The Olympics, Medically Speaking

Family Medicine and Community Health // Orthopaedics // Psychiatry

The author and her mother in Olympic stadium at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta

Citius, Altius, Fortius is the Olympic motto. Translated from Latin this is Faster, Higher, Stronger. Names like Carl Lewis, Michael Johnson, and Michael Phelps and so many more are synonymous with the Summer Olympic Games.

As a child, I was fascinated by the Games. In the summer of 1984, I was nine years old and watched almost every minute of it. I was glued to the TV as Mary Lou Retton captured the gold medal in the individual all-around gymnastics competition. I wanted to BE her, even though I had never taken a gymnastics class and was already taller than her. But, it led to a love for the institution and planted a deep respect for competition at the Olympic level. This led to my Olympic “moment” as a summer volunteer at the 1996 Games in Atlanta. It was the closest I would come to my Mary Lou-like moment.

As the 2016 Games approach—August 5 through 21 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—we start to hear about today’s athletes and wonder as we do every two years: How DO they do it?

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