The Olympic Spirit

The Olympic Spirit
The Olympics are an inspiring event for both spectators and athletes. Watching these competitors push themselves as far as they can is one part of their story. Overcoming challenges in their past to get where they are, is the other part. Here a few inspiring stories I have been following over the course of the Vancouver Olympics.

JR Celeski. This young man had a serious crash during the Olympic qualifying races for short track. As he fell into the cushions that protect the edges of the track, his skate blade cut his leg on his thigh. The cut was very deep and just missed his femoral artery. Had he cut that artery, he could have bleed to death in a minute. With blood gushing out of his leg, attendants came to his aid, slowed the bleeding and whisked him off to the hospital. Unsure of when he would be able to get back on the ice, he had overcome huge odds by the time he stepped on the podium to accept the Bronze Medal in the 1500 meter race.

Let’s not forget though, that his path to Olympic glory was years in the making, as with every athlete. He began skating at 13 years of age and a year later decided to commit to the sport by moving from Washington State to California to train with a well known coach. As his parents were unable to leave their jobs, his older brother who had just finished college made the move with him. They shared an apartment for two years, until JR decided to return to Washington. He changed his mind again and returned to California, this time with his Dad, who gave up his career for him and found new work. His mother stayed in Washington to keep her job as a manager at Safeway. Without his family’s support, JR would have never made it to the Olympics.

Aksel Lund Svindal. When Aksel was only eight years old, his mother passed away. As his mother was previously an alpine ski racer, Aksel followed in his mother’s footsteps. In 2007, he crashed during downhill training and was rushed to the hospital. His injuries included an 8 inch cut in his abdomen, multiple face fractures and damage to his back and ribs. Five months later he was back on skis. One year later he won the same race where he had previously crashed! At the Vancouver Olympics, he has won three medals, a Gold, Silver and Bronze in Alpine skiing, with his father cheering him on.

Whether the Olympic athletes realize it or not, they inspire all of us to do our best with what we have. Many of them overcame huge odds, injuries and personal fears to arrive at Vancouver. Let us feel challenged by the Olympic spirit to be our personal best too.

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