My impressions of the Olympic spirit were forever changed on August 5, 1984, at the very first women’s Olympic marathon. I had long ago become an Olympic junkie, and my admiration of world-class athletes was firmly established, but not until that day did I truly understood what sportsmanship was all about.
It wasn’t the winner or other medalists who impressed me most that day. It was two women who entered the Olympic stadium 15 minutes after the winner crossed the finish line. Swiss competitor Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss was staggering from heat exhaustion. It took her more than five minutes to hobble around the track, occasionally stopping to hold her head.
Her tenacity was inspiring, but what touched me even more was the athlete who entered the stadium after her. This runner—I don’t even know her name—stopped by Andersen-Scheiss to see if she was okay, and to ask if she wanted to cross the finish line in front of her. How noble of the young woman to acknowledge that Gabriele had led her for 26 miles, and only by unfortunate circumstances would she lose that lead in the last fraction of a mile!
Just as noble, Andersen-Scheiss waved the gracious runner on, to surpass her at the end. It was so moving to see two people so appreciative and supportive of each other’s efforts.
When I finally had my moment to stand on the Olympic field of play, I vowed to carry the same admirable level of sportsmanship. If I were to win the competition, I wanted to do it under just circumstances when everyone had their best day. And if I weren’t the best on that day, then I didn’t deserve to win.
I was fortunate that I did happen to be the best on that day. But I was even more fortunate to have that character-shaping experience back in 1984.
Motivational Weight Management Tip
My experience of working with the Biggest Loser contestants and Symtrimics has inspired me to leave motivational diet, health, and wellness tips at the end of all of my blogs. These tools will be driven from the actual advice shared in my weekly motivational Transformation Talks. This week’s tip: Remind yourself of small victories.