The 2016 Olympics ended and all the awards have been handed out. These incredible athletes worked so hard for so long in order to, not only receive a gold medal and stand on a podium announcing to the world that they are elite, they are extra-ordinary, and beyond mere good, but to affirm their hard work, their diligence, their time.
Both of our girls swam for years, so I have to be honest, our family was glued to the set. We yelled and cheered for Katie Ledecky and who didn’t fall in love with her smile and her effort? The four of us standing up in the family room, staring at the screen, rooting for Michael Phelps as he won race after race, racking up gold medal after gold medal.
I had a football coach who assessed my coordination candidly and rather accurately, or more appropriately, my lack thereof. I was known as a sort of quick battering ram. I enjoyed the fullback position more so than I did the linebacker position because as a fullback, I knew defenders were coming to get me and I prided myself on dishing out as much or more punishment as I received. I approached my coach about my chances of returning punts. In perfect deadpan, he said that the punt returner was to avoid collision, not cause it. He went on to say that if I tried to run between two trees, I’d hit them both on the way through.
So when our gymnastics team performed, I was and still am in awe. I mean, dancing and bouncing around on a balance beam that is only 3.9 inches wide? Seriously? The uneven bars, the floor routine. The Olympics made Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Madison Kocian, Laurie Hernandez, and Aly Raisman household names. Their grace, their poise . . . I write this and I find myself shaking my head in awe.
As outstanding as those performances were, and knowing as I write this that I’ve missed a bunch of other outstanding performances both individual and group, there are two standout moments for me.
The first is the post-race interview by Lilly King. She had just won a tight race and she said, "I think it just proved that you can compete clean and still come out on top.”
“. . . compete clean and still come out on top . . .”
As a father of two young ladies, I was so proud. In this day and age of cheating and drugs and substance enhancement, what a refreshing statement. Parents, pin that statement up where your children see it each and every day. Seriously.
But my favorite is the story of two runners who tripped and fell over each other.
In the 5,000 meter race (I mean seriously? 5,000 meters?), a runner from New Zealand, Nikki Hamblin fell on the track after her feet got tangled with American runner, Abbey D’Agostino. They lay sprawled on the track as the other racers kept running. All chances for a medal gone. Months of training wasted.
But D’Agostino put a hand on Hamblin’s shoulder and said, “Get up. We have to finish this.”
“. . . We have to finish this.”
They could have walked off the track and no one would have thought anything about it except to worry about the extent of their injuries. But no. They finished, one helping the other cross the finish line.
They finished the race together.
We give Awards And Medals for all sorts of things. Paper certificates and ribbons and trophies. Some for first or second place and some just for participating. Meant to encourage, I suppose.
But I think Lilly King, Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino deserve something for what they said and did. I think Lilly King’s words, and Nikki Hamblin’s and Abbey D’Agostino’s actions deserve something beyond what this unknown, but well-meaning blogger writes about them.
To me, it is this spirit, this truth that really matters in sports. Not the chest pounding, the stupid touchdown dance, the bragging that is so commonplace in sports today. Frankly, that sickens me. But I will remember Lilly King and Nikki Hamblin and Abbey D’Agostino for a long, long time. I want my kids and their kids to remember them, too. And, Katie Ledecky’s smile. That, too. Gotta love that smile. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
To my readers:
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If you like to read thriller/mystery, check out:
Book One of the Lives Trilogy, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen year old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they’ll end up like all the others- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. And the possibility exists that one of his team members might be involved. http://tinyurl.com/Stolen-Lives-J-Lewis
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
Six men escaped and are out for revenge. The boys, recently freed from captivity, are in danger and so are their families, but they don’t know it. The FBI has no clues, no leads, and nothing to go on and because of that, cannot protect them. http://tinyurl.com/Shattered-Lives-J-Lewis
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
The FBI knows a 14 year old boy has a price on his head, but he and his family don’t. With no leads and with nothing to go on, the FBI gambles and sets up the boy and his family as bait in order to catch three dangerous and desperate men with absolutely nothing to lose.
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they don’t know one another, the lives of FBI Kelliher, 11 year old Brett McGovern, and 11 year old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread that Pete Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their lives are in jeopardy as each search for a way out. http://tinyurl.com/Taking-Lives-J-Lewis
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