Once, when I was about 11 years old, I dreamed of being an Olympic figure skater. Karen Magnussen had recently won a silver medal for Canada and I was inspired. Plus I loved the swirling skirts on the skating costumes. My mom signed me up at the local arena and my career began and ended when they put me in the younger group after watching me skate. I’m sure it was a judging scandal. At least I learned to do a spiral. Applause please.
I am not the biggest sports fan going. Beyond asking the score of the hockey game (necessary for polite conversation in Canada) or a few moments watching figure skating, I honestly don’t pay that much attention. I hope you will still be my friend 🙂
The exception to my indifference about sports is the Olympics. Why do I watch? The story of it all. I love it when athletes have overcome nearly insurmountable odds.
Jan Hudec, a Canadian competitor in the men’s downhill at Sochi, had seven prior knee surgeries and endured a sore back to tie for a bronze medal for his adopted country Canada.
Interestingly enough, the other bronze went to American, Bodie Miller, a man with a story of his own. Miller lost his brother in the past year due to a seizure.
Similarly, figure skater Joannie Rochette did not allow grief to incapacitate her. Shortly before her programme at the 2010 games, she received news that her mother had died suddenly of a heart attack. Two days later, Rochette won a bronze medal in her mother’s honour.
Clara Hughes, multiple medalled athlete in speed skating and cycling, rode in the 2012 London Olympics with a recently fractured vertebrae. Remarkably she placed fifth.
The original Jamaican bobsled team, competed in Calgary 1988 even though they came from a poor tropical country with no experience in the winter sport.
When it comes to family challenges, free-style skier and gold medallist, Alexandre Bilodeau is a special kind of hero who shares his medal accomplishments with his brother who has cerebral palsy.
The Olympic games is not just about sport. It is about rising above challenges to become extraordinary. Competition at this level is pushing your body and spirit through the barriers of whatever illness or injury life throws at you. Sometimes, it’s even about giving up your place for another for the sake of the team, like Gilmore Junio did for Canadian speed skating teammate Denny Morrison or acting with grace when you don’t get the medal you deserve like Sale’ and Pelletier in their 2002 performance. Like Jean Philippe Le Guellec, who broke a ski in the biathalon, the Olympic Spirit is about getting up after you’ve fallen and finishing the race anyway.
That is something I can strive for every day, even if I never lace up a pair of skates or hurl my body into the air.
Go Team Canada!
Image: By Vesperholly at en.wikipedia [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons