Thursday, August 28, 2008

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Citius, Altius, Fortius

It's the Olympic motto. Faster, Higher, Stronger.

There is a distinction between gold medalist and Olympic Champions. I don't think there is a word for what the difference is. I did an earlier blog about one, my favorite Olympic moment - John Stephen Akhwari in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. For the purpose of this post, I think it bears repeating:

To this day, I tear up hearing those words. "...they sent me 5000 mile to finish the race."

Do you remember who won the marathon in 1968? They said it in the video. Even people who where in Mexico City for those games don't remember, but they remember John Stephen Akhwari. Akhwari, even though he came in last -with a broken leg, still beat 17 other competitors who didn't finish.

Citius, Altius, Fortius - Faster, Higher, Strong. I'll let you decide which it is.

Fly Like and Eagle

Another Olympic favorite story for me: Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards

Edwards, a ski jumper from the United Kingdom -the first Brit to do so. He trained with used or donated equipment, and was extremely short-sighted. His glasses and goggles usually fogged to such a degree while training, they were rendered useless.

On his jump in 1988 Calgary Olympics, Eddie came in last. But, he'd jumped his best, threw his hands up in victory on his landing, and the crowd roared for him:

From the Wikipedia Entry on Eddie The Eagle:
At the closing ceremony the president of the Games singled him out for his contribution: "At this Games some competitors have won gold, some have broken records and one has even flown like an eagle." At that moment, 100,000 people in the stadium roared 'Eddie! Eddie!'. It was the first time in the history of the games that an individual athlete had been mentioned in the closing speech.

The President of the IOC singled out the last place finisher, not the gold medal winner. Even ski jump fans will remember Eddie The Eagle before they remember who won that event. Who was the real Olympic Champion of the 1988 Ski Jump competition?

Citius, Altius, Fortius - I think Eddie's nickname implies which one.

Cool Runnings

Did the gold medal winner of the Bobsled event of the same 1988 Calgary games get a movie made about them? Does anyone even remember who won the event that year? Or, do most remember who showed up?

Jamaica stunned the world by showing up. And, they had a successful movie made about them.
Citius, Altius, Fortius

The Eel
Eric Moussambani, from Equatorial Guinea, had never seen an Olympic size pool till he walked into the venue in 2000 Sydney Olympics. He'd only started swimming eight months before the race, practicing in a hotel pool. Moussambani proudly represented his country, and had to do it by himself, in front of an Olympic crowd:

While the video above is done by a pair of comedians, the performance of Moussambani, while imperfect, is still very memorable.

The Gold Medal winner is not always the Olympic Champion.

Citius, Altius, Fortius