I know there are a huge number of sports in the Olympics. But the one that I always watch out for is gymnastics.
To my mind, gymnastics is the ultimate 'sport for sport's sake'. You have to train really hard for it, from a very young age. There is no team to fall back on, you are all alone out there. You, your body, and more importantly, your mind.
Of course many other sports fall in this category - most athletics events, weight-lifting and archery to name just a few. But I feel these sports are grounded in something practical. Human beings have raised their bows, and lifted loads and run to catch prey since the beginning of time.
Gymnastics is not natural, it's man-made. It's pushing the human body to a level beyond.
And no matter how good you are, and how hard you train, there is no knowing how you will land after that triple cartwheel. Every move you make, I have my heart in my mouth.
Lastly it is such a good-looking sport. In the grace, the beauty and the strength with which it is performed. And the good looks of the performers themselves.
I will never forget the contest between Mary Lou Retton and Ecaterina Szabo ([pic alongside) in the 1984 LA Olympics. She was the first American to win the overall gold, although we must remember that was the year the Soviet bloc had boycotted the Games.
Back then the Americans were competent, yet the Russians and Romanians definitely had more style!
Of course now we also have the Chinese. Like the East Europeans, they put up Factories to Produce Champions. The formula being 'spot talent young', ragdo them, ferret out the one diamond for every 99 pieces of coal.
The Chinese are no doubt super-talented - rubber ki gudiya types - but it's difficult to cheer for them. They all look the same to me :)
Speaking of looks I was a bit surprised to see the amount of make up the females gymnasts are sporting these days. I mean eye shadow in the Olympics?? Takes some getting used to.
I guess today's gymnastics champs won't be satisfied with endorsing Wheaties ... In fact the US women's gymnastics team is actually sponsored by Cover Girl cosmetics.
Well, as long as it does not affect their performance, who am I to complain?
My bigger grouse is that you hardly get to watch much of any one sport. With only DD Sports covering the Games and so many events happening simultaneously.
And honestly it does not matter if India does not win any medals. Or just the odd bronze. Instead of the usual and endless debates on why we can't do better, let's just celebrate those who are.
Because some kid out there is going to see it and go 'Wow'! "That's what I want to be". Like Mary Lou Retton did, when she saw champion gymnasts on television.
Her first pining for Olympic Gold came at the age of four when watching Olga Korbut during the 1972 Olympics...When Retton was seven she watched Nadia Comaneci compete in the Olympics and enchant the world with her skill and force. Retton knew she wanted to one day stand on the podium and receive a gold medal.
Yes of course we need more facilities, funds and all that jazz. But every Long Journey begins at a signpost called Inspiration.
Update: Abhinav Bindra has just won a gold medal in the men's 10 metre air rifle event :).