Category Archives: Olympics

Good Old Olympics Grit

I’ve said it many times before:  I admire GRIT.  Smarts and abilities are not enough.  They need to be riveted to grit. 
Grit got Seth Wescott a gold medal in the finals of the men’s snowboard cross at the Vancouver Olympics, where many others would have slid into oblivion.
He started out badly.  In his qualifier, he slipped and spun 360 degrees and ultimately ended up ranked 17th out of 32 athletes to start the heats – which meant that he wouldn’t get a good lane choice. 
Instead of moaning and complaining, or losing his motivation, he told himself:  “OK, I’m going to have to work damned hard for this.”
At the starting gate in the finals, he said something to himself like “You’ve got to go get this one.”
He was last from the start, BUT he managed to come home to Maine, as an Olympic gold medalist for the second time.
He didn’t think of anything but the moment and the moves – no looking back with dismay, no beating himself up, and no giving up.  THAT is my definition of an Olympic athlete!

And, obviously, I’m writing this story because this is the way you should approach everything in life!

Olympic Stories

Matthew Syed, a former international table tennis player who represented Great Britain in two Olympic Games, wrote a list for the TimesOnline (7/15/08) of the Top 50 Greatest Olympic Games Moments.  These are some of his choices (in no particular order):

1. In London (1908), Wyndham Halswell from Scotland won the 400 meters as the sole runner.  In the initial “final” race two days earlier, officials declared the race void and ordered a re-run when it was deemed that two Americans had conspired to block him from passing.   In the rescheduled race, all the other competitors refused to run against him, allowing him to take the gold.

2. In St. Louis (1904) US gymnast George Eyser won two golds, a silver and a bronze.  What’s the big deal?  He had a wooden leg.

3. In Munich (1972), the U.S. basketball team, going into the final with Russia, had been unbeaten in 63 Olympic matches.  With three seconds remaining, Russia led 49-48, when a foul was awarded to the U.S.  They nailed the first two shots, but a horn blew during the second shot.  The third shot failed, and the Americans started to celebrate their 50-49 win.  But an official said he had whistled for play to stop after hearing the earlier horn, and the Russians said that they had requested a timeout before the shots were attempted.  The referee ordered the clock to be reset to 3 seconds to replay the inbound.  Russia failed to score.  Then the officials said that the clock was still in the process of being reset when the referee put the ball in play!  The Secretary General of the International Basketball Federation, stepped in and ordered the clock to be reset to 3 seconds and the inbound replayed.  The Russians scored and were crowned champions.  The Americans refused, unsurprisingly, to turn up at the medal ceremony.  The silver medals still sit, unclaimed, in a vault at the International Olympic Committee headquarters, and some members of the American team have written in their wills that no member of their families may claim the medals after their death.

4. At the Games in Rome (1960), Ethiopian Abebe Bikila became the first runner representing an African nation to win gold in the marathon at the Olympics.  He did it barefoot, and set a world record in the process.

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