Olympics define the human spirit
by Bailey Richards
Hi, my name is Bailey and I am an Olympics addict. Wow, it feels good to say that. It all started at a young age when my parents had the audacity to think that my sister and I should be outside playing more than buying movies and video games. The first time I remember watching the Olympics was 1996 in Atlanta, and I have been addicted ever since.
I started in swim lessons at two years old. Then came soccer and softball, and eventually volleyball. We were never a big inside family. Even in the winter we would take what little snow we had and try to sled, build forts, have snowball fights or build snowmen. Inside time usually meant taking the blow up chairs in the basement and wearing them like a sumo suit and wrestling.
While we never owned many movies and never had a gaming system, one movie that we have always owned no matter the video platform and watched religiously in the Richards household is Cool Runnings.
Cool Runnings is the story of three Jamaican sprinters that were poised to go far in the Olympic Games, but due to a fall by one of the sprinters that took out the other two in the Olympic trials, all three were left off the team. Determined to go to the Olympics any way that he could, one of them reached out to a former American bobsledder living in Jamaica to turn the three sprinters and one push cart driver into a bobsled team.
The Jamaicans had never seen snow, felt cold, or tried to walk on ice, but within just a few months they were able to transform into a team and make it to the Winter Olympics. They were the first team to ever go to the Winter Olympics from Jamaica.
They surprised everyone by making it to the finals before an equipment malfunction cost them the race and caused them to have a horrific crash. Cool Runnings, while at its core is a silly comedy, is also based on a true story of four men who actually made their Olympic dreams come true just by getting there.
The Olympics prove that the human spirit can overcome just about anything, including language barriers and competition. The women’s gymnastics team is a great example of this. As they had to wait before taking the mat for the last event in the team finals, their main competition, the Russian team, crashed and burned at the end.
The Americans had to then compete while their main competitors cried on the side of the mats. As the Americans put up big scores they did not gloat; they were happy, but also felt the pain of the other teams since they all know how much work goes into being an Olympian. To lose because of having a bad night is a reality and is unfortunately common.
When the Jamaicans crashed their bobsled in the finals in the 1988 Olympics, the other teams cheered for them. They had a mutual understanding of how difficult the sport is and how hard they had worked.
In what could be the tensest moments of most athletes’ lives, they all remain understanding and even compassionate. Arguably, some of the most competitive people in the world all jammed together with people from countries that are at war with one another, all vying for the exact same thing and only one can win it, yet fights remain rare.
These athletes are more than just great examples of what training and dedication can do for the human body, but what mutual understanding of a shared difficulty can do for tolerance and compassion.
I love watching the Olympics for the incredible performances, but also for the amazing examples set by the athletes.
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