While watching the Olympics the other night, I came across an
incredible sight. It was not a gold medal, or a world record broken, but a
show of sheer determination and guts.
The event was swimming and started with only three men on the blocks.
For one reason or another, two of them false started, so they were
disqualified. That left only one to compete. That would have been
difficult enough, not having anyone to race against, even though the time
on the clock is what's important.
I watched the man dive off the blocks and knew right away that
something was wrong. Now I'm not an expert swimmer but I do know a good
dive from a poor one, and this was not exactly medal quality. When he
resurfaced, it was evident that the man was not out for gold -- his arms
were flailing in an attempt at freestyle. The crowd started to titter.
Clearly this man was not a medal contender.
I listened to the crowd begin to laugh at this poor man that was
clearly having a hard time. Finally he made his turn to start back. It
was pitiful. He made a few desperate strokes and you could tell he was
But in those few awkward strokes, the crowd had changed.
No longer were they laughing, but beginning to cheer. Some even began
to stand and yell things like, "Come on, you can do it!" and, "Go for it!"
A clear minute past the average swimmer, this young man finally
finished his race. The crowd went wild. You would have thought that he
had won the gold, and he should have. Even though he recorded one of the
slowest times in Olympic history, this man gave more heart than any of the
Just a short year ago, he had never even swam, let alone raced. His
country had been asked to Sydney as a courtesy.
In a competion where athletes remove their silver medals feeling they
have somehow been cheated out of gold, or when they act so arrogantly in
front of their rivals, it is nice to watch an underdog.
A man that gave his all -- knowing that he had no chance, but competed
because of the spirit of the games.