Today a lot of history was made. One doesn’t get to make that statement very often. The expected – but still extraordinary – Michael Phelps won another gold medal! It is going to very tough to ever beat his Olympic record. And he has had a very positive impact on the sport of swimming. I think the really tough part of his life starts tomorrow though. How will he use all this fame and all those endorsements? Will he actually do anything to make the world a better place? Will he do anything really important? Will he be as impressive as Johann Olav Koss?
Who is he you might ask? I learned about Right to Play through my friend Pierre during the Vancouver Games. Check it out…
And since Ryan Lochte’s mom told the media he was a slut he is getting press for more than swimming so he will be OK 🙂 Canada’s Rosie (MacLennan) got the first gold of the games so she will always have a place in our national history. And apparently, not only did she do the nation proud, she also made up for her grandfather’s missed Olympic chance because of WWII. A great story! And she seems like one of those people it’s really easy to cheer for.
Like her teammate Ryan Cochrane, not making gold, but making silver feel like a victory for the whole country. And the Brits! How can we not love them? Three gold medals in Athletics, a record. And all at home. What I loved the most was how gracious they all were, almost surprised they had won. Not the practiced sound bite Michael Phelps gave but some genuine emotion and astonishment. They all sounded like amateurs. And the fantasy Olympics that sometimes seems to have been side tracked by all the sponsors…
And then there is MY 2012 Olympic crush – Oscar Pistorius. The Blade Runner. The dude without fibulas who just qualified for the semi-finals in the 400 m for the Olympic games. The first Paralympic athlete who is also an Olympian.
But what is the most impressive is the kind of man he seems to be. Apparently a lot of it is attributable to his mom. He lost her as a teenager, which would give him leave to blame the world for all sorts of things. But instead he is throwing the concept of handicapping on its head. He comes from a poor country (South Africa). He has no physical advantages; he actually has disadvantages. But he is just there to soak it all up and enjoy his moment.
One thing I really like about CTV’s coverage is the extra information they provide about athletes, sports and physiology. I’ve seen the profile on Oscar a few times now and there are a couple of statements that really stand out. From an interview after his historic run:
“I thought about my mummy a lot today. She was kind of a bit of a hard core, she wouldn’t take no for an answer … She always said losers aren’t the person that gets involved and comes last, but it’s the person who doesn’t get involved.”
The other statement that really resonated was “I didn’t grow up thinking I had a disability. I grew up thinking I just had different shoes.”
I hope Oscar makes the final. And gets famous. It seems highly likely that at least the second will happen. He seems to embody all that is great and noble about the Olympics – and sport, a message that is hard to hear sometimes over the commercials promoting how you can get a McDonalds hamburger all over the world (ugh!) or use Tide to keep your red and white from bleeding.
If they gave a gold medal for charm, class and character, Oscar would get a gold 🙂 And so would his mom 🙂