Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Olympic Heroes

Well, with the Men's Marathon completed, the Olympics are basically over.  I say "basically" because I still have all of Saturday on the DVR, so I haven't seen the Men's 5K, Women's Volleyball Gold Medal, and the Men's 4x100 Relay or Bolt's "humble" speech afterwards.  Unfortunately, the 2 weeks of Global Group Hug that is the Olympics usually fades by the time alarm clocks go off on Monday morning.  So, before it does, here's who inspired me the most this year:

Everyone Who DNF'd I can't imagine the heartbreak to stop by 2.2 miles (Des Davila) or 11 miles (Ryan Hall and Abdi) in The Olympic Marathon. But it's that whole "live to fight another day" mentality.  Sometimes, today is not your day, and you don't want to waste tomorrow.  The only potential exception: Taoufik Makhloufi.  It really, really looked like he bailed on the 800 so he could run well on the 1500.

Manteo Mitchell He ran a "slow" 400m (46.1 seconds) and half of that distance was after his leg broke.  Yeah, this is the exact opposite of the DNF'ers, but it was a relay race.  He had 3 other people depending on him.  It's one thing to disappoint yourself, but he didn't want to let down his teammates.  

Oscar Pistorius He fought for years just to run in the Olympics.  He made it into the finals twice (400m and 4x400m) and came home empty handed.  Heck, he finished 8th in the 400.  But he has got to be the happiest "non-winner" in the games.  I'm sure you know his story, but what impressed me the most was that even with the all of the fighting, all of the publicity, he's still very humble about it.  He hasn't become angry.  He just wants to run, and he's going to keep running.

Juventina Napoleao Who?  She's the marathon runner from Timor-Leste.  If you watched the marathon last weekend, you may have seen her during the start, but not likely during the finish.  Out of the 107 women who crossed the finish line, she came in 106 (Caitriona Jennings of Ireland came in 107).  Why is 106 more impressive than 107?  Because Juventina got a PR of 3:05:07 in the Olympic Marathon.  Think about this, here's a woman who qualified for the Olympics on the Universality standard (meaning in all of Timon-Leste, there was no one who could met an A or B standard).  So, she obviously trained, and trained and trained.  She wasn't training for a medal, she was training for herself.  And it worked, she PR'd. And in the Olympics!  She's 23, so I like to think she'll be back in 4 years, and run a sub-3 hr race.

For me, these people are what the Olympics are all about.  Competing in a sport you love, and doing your best.  And remembering we're human, so sometimes doing our best for that day is only 2.2 miles.

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