I am sorry that the Olympics are ending tonight. They have stolen a few hours of sleep from me over the past couple of weeks – nights when I could not tear myself away even when I knew the results.
Here are a few Olympians who made an impression this year:
Nathan is a Canadian runner who lived here in Tallahassee for a while, and co-founded Capital City Runners. His second Olympics, running the 1500, did not end as he hoped. He fell in the semifinals, got his calf sliced up by another runner’s spikes, and came back to finish 12th out of 13th in that race. I am heartbroken that he did not have the finish he dreamed of but I am floored and awed by his class and valor in finishing the way he did. Someday when his daughter is old enough to understand, she will know she comes from persistent stock! (An interview with Nate is here and another writer’s perspective is expressed here.)
There was copious coverage of Oscar Pistorius, who ran the semifinals of the 400 meter race as a double amputee, on carbon fiber prostheses. When the winner of the semifinal race, Kirani James of Grenada, tapped Pistorius on the chest and traded bibs, I loved the moment (I also wondered how they got their numbers off so fast because I have never been able to get a race bib off without getting a safety pin stuck in the thing!!). I learned a lot from this article about Pistorius. I also learned a bit of the backstory behind this image that has been viral on social media:
Ellie May Challis has a new fan (and so does Oscar Pistorius).
At 27, Beth Tweddle won a bronze medal in the uneven bars, representing Great Britain. Her appearance was not something I had “caught” in the steady stream of spoilers throughout the day on social media. She has won a European Championship, a World Championship, and 4th at the Beijing Olympics. According to this article, she has had six broken ankles, three broken shoulders, and both cheekbones smashed (ouch).This was her last chance to represent Great Britain, and she did so in fine form! To be 27 and capable of competing in the Olympics is such a big deal, physically. When my daughter was a competitive gymnast, I saw young women with overuse injuries and other insults to their bodies that they will deal with forever. I have read of college gymnasts who have had hip replacements. I can only imagine the sacrifices Beth Tweddle has made to keep competing, a course that began when her parents enrolled her in gymnastics at the age of 9 to keep her quiet! Her hard work paid off.
Muhammad Ali said, “he who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” I salute these three Olympians who personified everything that is right about the Olympic spirit.