Kay Poe and Esther Kim have been best friends since they were seven
years old. Among other things they have in common, the two young ladies
from Houston both compete at the highest levels in taekwondo. How good
are they? Esther and Kay advanced to the finals in the Women's Olympic
Flyweight division at the 2000 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on May 20 in
"I don't think of her as just a friend. I think of her more as a
sister," Kay says. "We've grown up together, and we always push each
other and help each other out the best we can training wise." What a
story was unfolding! Reporters and photographers were poised to record
the outcome of so intense a competition between two girls who have been
close for so long. But a sports story would soon be overshadowed by a
far more important friendship story.
Kay had dislocated her left kneecap in her semi-final match of the
round robin tournament. Though ranked number one in the world at her
sport, it was questionable that she could compete against her best
friend. She could barely stand, so it was a foregone conclusion that
Esther would win, travel to the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, and
represent the United States in the international competition these two
had trained and worked toward for so long.
On the day of the match, Esther Kim shocked the crowd
by forfeiting rather than defeat her friend in an unfair competition.
In allowing the better taekwondo fighter to represent the United States
in Sydney, she won a personal battle over ego and selfishness. Amidst
frequent stories of cheating and taking unfair advantage in order to
win at any price, Esther showed how to win by losing.
"Even though I didn't have the gold medal around me," said Esther, "for
the first time in my life, I felt like a real champion." Her generosity
of spirit was honored with the Citizenship Through Sports Award and
with an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2000 Olympic Games from the
International Olympic Committee.
In the Bible, Paul wrote about giving up certain "rights" for the sake
of people he loved (see 1 Corinthians 9:1-15). Parents do it all the
time for their children. And occasionally friends make magnanimous
gestures like Esther's.
The next time you are inclined to bemoan the selfishness of the masses,
recall this story of a twenty-year-old athlete's largess. The next time
you have the chance to show magnanimity, let it inspire you to rise to
the level of her example.