As the London 2012 Olympics draws to an end, Team GB have won more Gold Medals than at any other Olympics for over 100 years.
There was great jubilation, and also the occasional disappointment, amongst all the athletes going for gold for Team GB. There were tears of happiness, of finally seeing a dream come true: and there were tears of disappointment, of seeing a dream shattered.
There were many reasons that the athletes had for competing. At the top of the tree, the medal winners:
On Thursday evening, there was Usain Bolt, achieving the double of successfully defending both his 100m and 200m victories from the Beijing 2008 Olympics. He did it, in his own words, to be a ‘legend’.
An hour before that, almost forgotten by the time of Usain Bolt’s triumph, was the great victory of David Rudisha. In the process of winning the Gold Medal, he also broke the 800m World Record and led EVERY other runner in that final to set either a personal best or a national record for the country they represented. It was described by many as the best 800m race ever run. Patrick Rudisha did it to make his father (an athlete in the 1968 Olympics), and Sebastian Coe (who had encouraged him in his endeavour) proud.
Two great athletes, two very different reasons for competing to win.
Then, at the other end of the scale were the athletes, who had no chance of winning a medal.
Wojdan Shaherkani took part in the women’s Judo event, whilst her compatriot, Sarah Attar, took part in the women’s 800m race. Wojdan Shaherkani lasted about a minute in her one and only bout in Judo, whilst Sarah Attar came last in her race. Neither stood a chance of winning a medal or competed to win, but just to take part – they were the first women ever allowed by Saudi Arabia to compete in the Olympics. They both endured (and continue to endure) severe criticism from many people within their own country just for taking part.
Who are the greater Olympians, the ‘winners’ or the ‘losers’. Both, for different reasons, all of which are valid. Why do you take part in the Olympics of life? Do you take part to become a legend, for pride, for the right to compete, or for another equally worthy reason?
I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have.
I must stand with anybody that stands right, and part with him when he goes wrong.
Abraham Lincoln, 16th U.S. President
Whatever your reason, you are worthy.
Go on, it’s never too late to win.