-- Henry VI, Part IV
I've had a crazy day and am just now hearing about Paul's withdrawal and Raj's ascension. I'm shocked at my own reaction -- so discombobulated ...
Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but the one thing I comprehend clearly in the initial shock of this announcement is what strange ironies suddenly present themselves. Who on Earth would have bet money at any point in the last four years that it would be Morgan and not Paul in Beijing? Morgan, not Paul, who competes on his third Olympics team? Morgan, not Paul, with the best chance of medalling in 08? Morgan, not Paul, with the potential to be in the limelight and perhaps bathe in glory? I've always had a special soft spot for Morgan and think he's been sorely underrated, but I'm not sure this is quite the way he (or anybody else) envisioned his day in the sun.
As the news starts to sink in ... I'm reluctant to admit it, but for me, Paul's withdrawal is depressing. Not just because of what it does to the USA's medal chances, but because I've been a loyal fan. He never gave any indication that he was anything less than confident -- even talked smack toward Yang Wei last week -- and I can't help but think it might be less depressing if fans like myself had been a little more prepared for the possibility that we'd never see him compete again. All we've heard is, "I'll be ready, I'll be ready," and so we kept investing ourselves and salivating in anticipation of the competition ahead. Then the rotator cuff bombshell along with the withdrawal announcement ... WTF?
I'm not faulting Paul. He can't tell us what he doesn't know, and this rotator cuff thing apparently just happened in the last week or so. I guess I'm just blindsided at being blindsided. I think Paul's actually proving (again) what a class act he is by making the most excruciating and most honorable decision. I just wish it wasn't knocking the wind out of me.
I'm really sad that I won't get to see the Hamm twins compete in one more Olympics. I'm less sad about what all this means for the USA's medalling chances. Unquestionably, they are significantly diminished. As the reality of a team without Paul starts to sink in, I have a profound sense of an amazing chapter coming to an end and an unknown chapter beginning. It will be a joy to watch Raj. I can't imagine an athlete who will compete with a clearer sense of destiny and redemption than he will. And I believe Morgan will compete in a way that brings him the credit he's so long deserved. It also will be fun to watch the stars of Horton, Hagerty, Spring and Tan ascend as they launch into new levels of stardom. I'll love every minute of watching them compete. But I'll still miss Paul.
I can't believe I'm being such a drama queen over this. On the other hand, another irony: who ever dreamed that the off-stage drama surrounding a team of grown men would be so downright Shakespearean?
Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.
-- The Tempest
Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.
-- King Lear
If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men's cottage princes' palaces.
-– Merchant of Venice
Is it not strange that desire should so many years outlive performance?
-- Henry IV, Part 2
Screw your courage to the sticking-place.
I don't know if I'm ever going to fully accept that Paul isn't on this team. Screw what's official. In my mind, I see this team as six competiting athletes, two alternates, and one inspiring spirit watching from afar.