Friday, August 10, 2012

Have You Enjoyed the London Olympics?

His was the first of the gold medals won in the 2012 Olympics, his score breaking an Olympic record in archery. This is a special accomplishment in the life of any Olympian but what makes his story amazing is the fact that he is legally blind.
By Original author: Pierre de Coubertin (1863-1937) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With the closing ceremonies scheduled for Sunday I can honestly say I have enjoyed watching the 2012 London Olympics. The competition has been great, coming second only to the great story lines behind the competition. From Im Dong Hyun of South Korea who cannot see out of one eye to Oscar Pistorius of South Africa who ran in the 400 meter and the 4X400 meter races.

Pistorius had his legs amputated when he was an infant but his parents never let him settle for being simply handicapped. Instead they pushed him to live and he eventually won several gold medals in the Paralympics. This year, after overcoming controversy over whether or not his prosthetic legs gave him an unfair advantage, Pistorius was allowed to compete this year against able-body athletes, making the semifinals before being eliminated.

I look forward to seeing how Pistorius’ success changes the face of athletic competition. Has he opened the door for less traditional athletes to compete on the world stage in other sports?  Pistorius did not win a medal but he did earn his place as a pioneer and game changer.

Gabby Douglas is a game changer in her own right. The first African-American to win gold in both the team and the all-around gymnastics competitions and the first American of any color to win both in the same year, her victories expanding on the example first set by Dominique Dawes in 1996. These women both serve as reminders that success knows no color. I think the silly arguments about her hair or about whether she should have worn red white and blue should have been left at the side of the road. The Flying Squirrel has earned the right to forever be called an Olympic gold medal winner.

I look at these national heroes and wonder what holds me back. What limitations have I allowed to keep me from chasing my dreams? Even at my age seeing the world’s athletes challenge expectations has served to change my thinking. And as I discuss these Olympics with my children I hope they are also inspired to reach for the brass ring.

Yes I have enjoyed the London Olympics and I look forward to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi Russia. How about you? Have you enjoyed the Olympics and what stands out in your mind as a great moment in this year’s games?

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