Sure, I enjoy the competition, the sweat, and the motivation to get up off the couch and go for a run — but the stories are what truly make the Olympics special for me.
The tales of personal sacrifice, of obstacles overcome, of dreams achieved through not just great genetics but through hours of hard work.
When the media calls these stories “Cinderella stories,” I always find that a little off-putting. Cinderella, essentially, did nothing but luck into having a fairy godmother. Cinderella couldn’t even keep her shoes on, for God’s sake.
There was no fairy godmother for Lopez Lomong, who ran from captivity in Sudan at age six, although he did end up with some pretty terrific foster parents. There are no glass slippers for Sarah Robles, who at 23 is the highest-ranked weight lifter in America (male or female) but can’t get a sponsorship deal because, apparently, strong women aren’t sexy or something stupid like that. And Evelyn Stevens doesn’t need a gilded coach and white horses, thankyouverymuch. She traded her rat-race job as an investment banker for road races, becoming a competitive bike racer all of four years ago.
Hard work. Not letting anything stop you. Not letting people tell you, “you can’t do that.”
These are the stories to tell our children, don’t you think?
Take a look at these ten Olympic athletes from all over the world. In a field crowded with talent and impossible dedication, these men and women stand out as truly inspirational human beings.
(Photo Credit: Lopez Lomong Foundation)
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