Courage, Heartbreak and Passion
Everybody loves a good story, and this month Americans don’t have to look far to find one. Now in the midst of the 2018 Winter Olympic Games I’m finding the athletes’ background stories absolutely riveting. Tales of training day in and day out, family sacrifice, physical injury and accidents; these are just a few of the unglamorous moving parts in the lives of our athletes in Pyeongchang.
I love the athletes’ passion for their sport and even the stories of their heartbreak for what it shows about them as resilient human beings. Just a few of the featured stories include an Olympian who was hospitalized just months ago and had to face the question, is it time to let go of the dream? Or the couple facing medical challenges who didn’t believe they’d qualify, but aimed high anyway and now find themselves on the world stage. And the athlete who lost at the 2014 games, decided to move on and set out in business, only to find that the passion for his sport and excellence burned too brightly to ignore? These athletes show unwavering commitment, determination and courage to overcome obstacles. They are tough, spirited and resilient.
Watching these games and learning about each athlete reminds me of how much we as humans have in common. The courage, heartbreak and passion we see playing out in South Korea is felt equally in the lives of non-athletes. The PhD student working toward a degree to help in finding cures for dementia; the artist who pours all her resources into creating a studio that other struggling artists might join and benefit from; the young professional who is learning how to build a business team and experiencing the ups and downs of success and failure; or the young parents with less than sufficient financial resources learning how to care for their children in a challenging world.
Every two years the Olympic Games provide an opportunity for people the world over to unite. Athletes support one another and focus on commonalities rather than differences, just wanting to achieve their best and appreciating the company they find themselves in. I am proud of our Olympians whether they medaled in their sport or not. The Olympic creed states that "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
This year, two countries living with military tensions along their borders worked together to allow North and South Korean athletes to compete together, marching into the opening ceremonies under one flag. We pause and watch as the seemingly impossible is accomplished through the spirit of the games, a spirit which can build a more peaceful and better world through a spirit of mutual understanding. My wish is that the Olympic spirit remains in our hearts and minds long after the flame is extinguished. Let the courage, commitment and passion spread and burn brightly.
Photo Credit: Olympic Torch image by Makfish used under CC by 2.0