In years to come, what will you remember about the 2016 Olympics? Will it be that the USA captured a barrel full of medals? Will it be the outstanding performances of Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt? Without a doubt they were superlative achievements.
Or will you remember the American image being tainted by the rude behavior of Ryan Lochte and his buddies at the gas station? And to top it off, they lied about it. Our image of the ugly American was given another coat of polish.
The Olympic stories that will be with me for a long time are the stories of the human spirit. That is what the Olympics are really all about.
In one of the 5000-meter heats, a dramatic event unfolded. It had nothing to do with winning and everything to do with compassion and the human spirit. American Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin collided on the track, knocking each other over. D’Agostino helped Hamblin to her feet, but soon collapsed. Hamblin returned the favor, telling D’Agostino, “We have got to finish.” When D’Agostino finally made it to the finish line, Hamblin was there to greet her with a big hug. No medals, no placement, but something better: a foundation for a lasting friendship between two competitors who did not know each other before the race. Who were the winners of the heat? Who knows? But I will remember this incident that emanates love and compassion as a testament to the human spirit.
How much is a silver medal worth? Here is another great story out of the Olympics.
A Polish discus thrower, Piotr Malachowski, surely trained many years to reach his goal of winning a medal at the Olympics. His work paid off: He won the silver medal. Imagine the jubilation he must have enjoyed accepting that medal; the joy that his goal had been finally achieved. It was a great honor for not only himself but also Poland. But a greater honor was yet to come.
Malachowski decided to put the medal up for sale on the Internet. What? That is not what you do with such a coveted award, one that represents the best of an individual’s achievement in a worldwide competition! What a slap in the face to the Olympics! What happened?
It turns out, the medal was put up for bid to obtain money for a 3-year-old boy who was suffering from eye cancer! The human spirit of Piotr was infused with compassion and nobility. It was a great act of mercy in the Year of Mercy declared by the church.
Now I ask you, what will you remember in years to come about the 2016 Olympics?