Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — What a great Olympics this has been! The London Olympic Games invited the world to watch, and the response has been wonderful. The thirtieth Olympiad thus far has been full of excitement, hope, and history making moments.
Never before have there been so many ways for people to watch and get updates of their favorite athletes and events through the worldwide use of media and technology.
The opening ceremonies offered their own brand of British flair: the symbolic walk through Great Britain’s history, the sky-diving “Bond-girl” Queen of England, the children’s songs of the British Isles, the dramatic lighting of the torch, and the celebratory parade of athletes — complete with the songs of the legendary Sir Paul McCartney.
Immediately, the Olympic excitement grew as we watched performances of the world’s most outstanding athletes — including 17 year old Missy Franklin, America’s “Fab Five” of the women’s gymnastics team, and the USA Swim Team’s most celebrated athlete: Michael Phelps.
What an amazing event to watch, as Phelps and his teammates swam the gold medal winning race that made him the most decorated Olympic athlete of all time. What a great moment of Olympic history!
Michael Phelps is a magnificent athlete who is thrilling to watch, but what I have found most amazing about this swimmer, has been his gracious conduct in the face of outspoken critics.
Despite his legendary accomplishments, Michael has been the target of harsh criticism from some of his own teammates, (who are not nearly as accomplished). Yet, he has consistently refused to respond in like manner. Even when egged on by reporters, he chose to let his swimming speak for him, and refused to boast about potentially becoming the greatest Olympic athlete of all time.
Watching Michael congratulate and thank his relay teammates, after the race that earned him the record breaking medal, was heartwarming. Even touching Ryan Lochte (his most critical teammate) with camaraderie and smiles of gratitude after the race showed the true heart of a champion.
In the interviews following the legendary victory, I waited to hear the “in your face” response from him, but it never came. Although he had just made history — winning his nineteenth Olympic medal, he graciously acknowledged all of his supporters, and even owned up to not training with full intensity, which cost him the gold, when Clos beat him in less than a split second. In a society where boastful arrogance and prideful confidence has become an acceptable norm, I find this kind of humility and gracious conduct refreshing.
Gracious conduct was also beautifully displayed after the amazing young women of the USA Gymnastics team won the gold medal. Each woman praised her teammates, and thanked them for their contributions towards winning the team gold.
The heart of a champion was perhaps most graciously displayed in Jordyn Wieber whose tears of disappointment touched us all, when she discovered that she could not compete for the gymnastics all around medal, due to an Olympic rule: only two gymnasts per country. Despite her individual heartache, she composed herself, and helped move her team to victory, with the performances of a lifetime in each event — never complaining, never blaming, never criticizing the rule that kept her out of the next level of competition — despite finishing fourth overall.
These Olympians have displayed outstanding athleticism and exemplary character by their gracious conduct. To me, that is the true heart of a champion.Jackie Davis is an Inspirational Vocalist, Musician and Speaker with over twenty years of television broadcast experience. You can contact her at email@example.com