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The Olympics have been a blast

LIKE many of you, I have been glued to the Olympics for the past couple of weeks.

Live or tape-delayed, badminton or basketball, it hasn't mattered. I've been in front of a TV set (or sometimes computer), mesmerized by the competition and transfixed by the spectacle.

It's funny. Some Olympics events that are utterly absorbing, like water polo or beach volleyball, I wouldn't give 5 minutes of attention under normal circumstances. Well, strike that about beach volleyball. Five hours, maybe?

What's fun is enjoying the Olympics together, all of us, draped in our American flags. That's what we wear at my house, anyway.

One aspect I've enjoyed about the 2012 Olympics is reading people's comments on Twitter — not just the complaints about NBC's approach, but the reactions of other West Virginians who are watching.

You know, regular West Virginians like Mary Lou Retton.

In case you, like an anonymous 9-year-old who lives in my home, are wondering who Mary Lou Retton is, this is how she describes herself on Twitter: "A very small person. Mom of 4 daughters, wife of 21 years. 1984 Olympic Champion."   

Oh! Her!

Wheaties box: check.

Unlike you and me, Mary Lou Retton actually got to fly to London and see London Bridge and hang out on the "Today" show with Giada De Laurentis. (Note: Giada seems spritely on TV but actually towers over Mary Lou).

Retton also got to hobnob with other gold medal gymnasts, including Gabby Douglas. (And in case you are wondering who would win in a tall-off between Mary Lou and Gabby, that one appears to be a draw.)

One thing Mary Lou Retton is big at is being a fan. She's like any other — just more knowledgeable and connected:

"Way to go @jordyn_wieber @gabrielledoug @kyla_ross96 @McKaylaMaroney @Aly_Raisman You did it and made us proud" is what she tweeted at the USA women the night they won the team gold.

Another West Virginia athlete I've enjoyed following is Renee Montgomery, South Charleston High School graduate, West Virginia high school athlete of the year and WNBA star.

Renee knows what she's talking about. She was invited to the USA Basketball Women's National Team training camp in the fall of 2009. The team selected to play for the 2012 Olympics was chosen from those participants.

Alas, she did not make the cut. The USA women's team is a very, very talented group.

Because of the Olympics, Montgomery's WNBA team, the Connecticut Sun, is on a month-long break. So Renee has been watching the Olympics seemingly non-stop and tweeting about it.

She brings credibility to the same kind of stuff you might be thinking.

For example, "That Phelps. Boy I tell ya. I know the other swimmers are glad he's retiring."

Or, regarding beach volleyball: "I hate simply running in the sand. Can you imagine running, jumping, and diving . . .  Salute to these women."

Montgomery tweeted a great anecdote about playing professional basketball against disgraced Olympic sprinter Marion Jones.

Jones was the point guard for North Carolina's national championship team in 1994 before going on to win three gold medals and two bronzes at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

She wound up giving the medals back and serving about six months in prison after admitting she had lied to federal investigators about taking steroids.

In 2010, Jones signed with the WNBA's Tulsa Shock. That's where Montgomery encountered her on the basketball court and initiated a footrace. The race did not seem to end well for Montgomery.  

"Watching these sprints reminds me when I raced Marion Jones (in my mind) when she played for Tulsa. It was on a fast break. . . She won. We were running the wings. She was guarding me. I could care less about the basketball. I ran straight to the baseline.

"I was so hurt. And to add insult to injury Tulsa went on to beat us that game. I cried myself to sleep that night. Marion Jones is heartless."

Speaking of disappointment, the Closing Ceremonies of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games are Sunday night. I'll be sorry it's over.

In the ceremony, London will hand over to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Olympic Games.

So let's all get together again in four years.

McElhinny is the Daily Mail's managing editor. He can be reached at 304-348-1703, bradmc@dailymail.com or at Twitter.com/BradMcElhinny.


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