Even an old dog can learn new tricks
I’ve been watching the Olympics for as long as I can remember. I’m old people; I go back to the days of swimmer Mark Spitz. He was “the man” before Michael Phelps came along and knocked his flippers into the “has been” league. While I have never been a world class athlete, I do get inspired and fanatic-like during those two weeks of summer every four years. Something about seeing not only great athletes out run, jump and swim each other but also the back stories they bring along for their Olympic ride.
This year was no exception as Bob Costas brought us behind the scenes of some underdogs and also some show ponies rags to riches ventures towards that elusive Olympic gold medal. Of all the stories I watched, athletes I admired, one stands out a zillion feet taller than the rest. No, not the Baltimore Bullet (surprised you didn’t I) but that South African runner, Oscar Pistorius.
Unless you have totally avoided the Olympics I’m certain you know of whom I refer. Oscar (we are on first name basis now) is the double amputee who took life by the crappy hand he was dealt and kicked its natural born ass. Not having any lower legs would not deter him from being all he wanted to be (keyword people, wanted).
He wanted to be like the other kids, he wanted to play Rugby, he wanted to be a track athlete, he wanted to run in the Olympics. He did and he shined brighter than the Olympic torch.
I wrote a brief note to Oscar last night after I saw him carrying his country’s flag so proudly during the closing ceremonies.
I know we have not been formally introduced but I wanted to drop you a note of thanks and appreciation. Now I know you have thousands of adoring fans and I am going to jump on that bandwagon too if you don’t mind.
See, you being so hell fired and determined to do what you wanted (ie: compete in the Olympic games in London) and not letting anyone tell you otherwise has lit a fuse under my feet too. No longer will I say “I should have, I wanted too, but”. Nope, watching you, getting to know your strength and determination regardless of your shortcomings has taught not only me, but the world can’t is not an option.
Next time I’m feeling all sorry for myself, I’m going to flashback to you on the track, in London, competing against some of the world’s best runners. Your shoulders were squared against negativity and your smile looked hope square in the eyes.
I won’t take up anymore of your time but in closing want to say that never in the history of my Olympic-watching days have I ever been more proud of an athlete. You held your head up high, showed exemplary sportsmanship even in losing (well, in my eyes you only lost a medal but gained much more) and taught this old dog we are never too old to learn new things.
Thank you my good man and may the Blade Runner continue to succeed.
Now I am not going to mail this because I’m not even sure of how many stamps to put on a letter to South Africa. I’ll just keep it in my trusty notebook as a reminder of the time I truly witnessed greatness.