Olympic spirit

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games got off to a horrible start with the death of the 21 year-old Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during training and there’s no doubt that this terrible event will cast a dark shadow on the memory of an otherwise excellent couple of weeks.

If this terrible accident was the low point, then the highlight had to be the debut of skier cross. A lot of people here in the UK dismiss the Winter Olympics, regarding the events as the mountain passtimes of the rich and spoiled, failing to recognise the years of training and sacrifice each and every athlete dedicate to their sport.

Throughout the Games, these athletes displayed tremendous feats of not only physical but also mental and emotional strength. None more so than ice skater Joannie Rochette who competed only days after the death of her mother and Petra Majdic who won bronze with five broken ribs and a punctured lung.

After Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang’s injury forced him to withdraw from the Beijing final in 2008, his sponsors offered their immedite support – Nike quickly releasing a special advert (from Wieden + Kennedy) with this message:

“Love competition.
Love risking your pride.
Love winning it back.
Love giving it everything you’ve got.
Love the glory. Love the pain.
Love sport even when it breaks your heart.”

You may think this was merely cynical corporate marketing but personally it beautifully encapsulates the spirit of the Games. Our day-to-day view of sport at the moment tends to be all about match fixing allegations, drug taking, personal scandal or cold-hearted business deals.

For some, the best Olympic moments feature the brave have-a-go underdog like Michael Edwards (you’ll probably know him better as Eddie the Eagle) or Eric “The Eel” Moussambani. However, in my eyes, nothing will ever eclipse the memory of Derek Redmond and his father on the track in 1992 and I don’t mind admitting that I well-up every single time I watch it.

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