Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Going for Gold ... Or Not!

The past week and a half, many people in the world have been watching the Games of the 30th Olympiad from London, England. Some were focused on swimming or gymnastics or track and some just watched whatever was on. Some complained about the tape-delayed nature of the Games (especially since everyone and their dog were posting the results without spoiler warnings). Some were rooting for their own country's athletes and some were rooting for the best "story" of the field.

The truth is ... the vast majority of the athletes competing in the games will never win a medal or hear their country's national anthem played after receiving a gold medal. Many represent countries which have rarely even won gold medals.

The public hears about the golden gods and goddesses of the Games. And don't get me wrong - I enjoy watching Michael Phelps swim or the Chinese divers dive or the USA basketball teams trounce teams. But that is not what the Olympics are all about. They are about doing one's best to represent their sport, their country and themselves on the field of sport.

One of my favorite stories from Olympic Games are the athletes who swim for the first time in an Olympic sized pool, because their country has none that big. Or stories about athletes and their communities having to have bake sales to raise money to send them to London. Or stories about little known athletes rising to the occasion and doing their personal best in an event even if they come in last place.

These athletes are my heroes. These athletes are the ones to whom we owe our awe and appreciation. But once again those who win will get fame and glory. And they deserve some of it.

However, I for one want to remember the stories of the athletes who beat the odds, amazed even themselves with their performances, and made their countries beam with pride -- no matter what place they got in their event.

I want to remember Grenadian sprinter Kirani James trading name tags with Oscar Pistorius, a double amputee, after a semifinal of the 400m race. I want to remember Sherab Zam, an archer from Bhutan, who only wanted to compete and introduce her country to others around the world. She was eliminated after only 6 arrows but did her country proud. I want to remember Usain Bolt, the fastest man in the world, stopping a live television interview because a medal ceremony was happening and he wanted to respect the medal winners.

 I want to remember the athletes who won no medals but did their best. That's all we can do -- our best with all that God has blessed us with.

I will never be an Olympic athlete, but I am enough. I don't need any medals to show me or anyone else that. (I do, however, have a "World's Greatest Mom" card I can show you if you ask).

So root on your favorite athletes -- the medalists and the idealists. But save a few cheers for the other athletes, Moms and Dads, bus drivers, cashiers, wait staff, mail carriers, teachers, police officers, and others in your life as well who deserve our awe and appreciation. They are enough, too.

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