I know this is fairly ethno-centric of me, and even though I am an USA lovin' American, whenever the Olympic Games are held, I root for the Estonian athletes. I'm sure this is because, as a child, my mother and I would watch the Olympics together, and we never saw the Estonian flag, the flag of her youth, in the Parade of Nations. Neither would we see flags for Latvia, Ukraine, or any of the "states" that made up the Soviet Union. But we knew that many of the athletes on the Soviet team were from those countries. (Indeed, often the entire Soviet basketball team was made up of Lithuanians!) Of course, we knew the US would win big, and we were very proud to see the American flag raised and the National Anthem played at all the medal ceremonies.
But, those days, we'd find ourselves watching the Finnish athletes, since their culture and language are very similar to Estonia's. We felt as though we had a connection to them. Once in a while, we'd hear the Finnish National Anthem at a medal ceremony, and since it's almost the same as the Eesti anthem, it would be a big thrill.
That all changed after 1991 when the Soviet Union fell apart, and all those tiny nations could compete at the Olympic Games under their own flags. How excited we were when we saw the Sinine, Must ja Valge (Blue, Black and White) of the Eesti flag come into the stadium for the first time in Albertville, France at the 1992 Winter Games.
I became a little miffed by the network coverage, however, since for the next few Olympics, NBC would go to commercial every time the Estonians made their entrance to the stadium! It happened at both the 1994 Winter Games, and the 1996 Summer Games! We never saw the team come in! I finally wrote a long letter to the sports producers at NBC bringing this to their attention. I really didn't think anything would come of it, but I compelled to let them know. Then, in the 1998 Summer Games in Nagano, Japan, the Eesti team entered the stadium, and NBC did NOT go to commercial!! Tom and I were so excited to see that flag and that team, I'm sure our cheers were heard all over our neighborhood!
This year, the Estonian team got a lot of good air time! I think it's because their outfits were so fabulous and their athletes so good-looking!