Dear Friends, The world loves the Olympic games for many reasons. The thrill of the competition, the feeling of unity, the joy of winning. My colleague, Ingrid Peschke, writing for The Huffington Post, highlights some Olympic “gold” we sometimes overlook in the action and excitement of the games: the gold of character. To win graciously, to lose with dignity and goodwill, to express the spirit of kindness and cooperation–these show traits of character that last a lifetime. This is what endures far beyond the heady emotions of any particular sporting event. Here’s Ingrid:
Over the years, the Olympics has provided many movie-worthy moments. Rio 2016 has been no exception.
Stories of mental and physical endurance, of the world’s top athletes beating overwhelming odds even before they ever line up against the competition has drawn millions of us to tune in and watch the games.
The gold in their characters shines even brighter than the medals that hang around their necks.
Who could fail to feel inspired by Usain Bolt’s unbeatable smile before he crossed the finish line of the 100-meter men’s sprint? It lit up the stands, and images of it raced across the world via social media sites, as he once again brought home gold for Jamaica.
And when Topsfield, Mass. runner Abbey D’Agostino collided with New Zealander Nikki Hamblin, it could have just been a story of thwarted 5,000-meter race ambitions. Instead it became another golden moment in Olympic history as the two stopped to help each other cross the finish line, willing to sacrifice a chance at a medal for basic human kindness.
There are countless stories like these that show viewers how the impossible becomes possible, barriers are broken, and the strength of character surpasses physical strength when it comes to performing your best.
Particularly moving this year has been the story of the fall and rise of Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time.
Phelps faced an identity crisis outside the pool and succumbed to alcohol addiction before once more rising to stardom and winning the final Olympic golds of his swimming career in Rio. Yet it was his single silver medal win in his final individual race that stood out, as he made room for Singapore’s Joseph Schooling, a young man he’d inspired years before, to stand on that highest medal platform which Phelps had dominated for years.