August 11, 2012


CITIUS, ALTIUS, FORTIUS  Faster, Higher Stronger. This is the motto of the modern Olympic games. It symbolizes the spirit of competition and the celebration of greatness among those who win the much coveted Gold, Silver, and Bronze medals.   Who has not watched in awe as Olympic athletes broke one world record after another.   American swimmer Michael Phelps has been hailed as the greatest Olympian of all time with a record 22 Olympic Medals at the London Games.  Jamaican runner Usain Bolt is the fastest man in the world setting a new world record for 100 metre sprint at 9.63 seconds!  It seemed that every race was merely a walk in the park for Bolt - a name befitting an athlete of his caliber.  So many other Olympic athletes warrant our admiration and praise as their accomplishments are nothing less than superhuman.  One thing is for sure, no matter your nationality, the memories of watching the London Olympic Games will last for a long time.

But what is true greatness? One look at the Olympic medal standings and there is no doubt that the United States, China, Russia, Great Britain and Germany are among the greatest international Olympians, holding the lion's share of medals.  But if medals were the only criteria to greatness it would drastically undermine the value and ability of all the other Olympians large and small. When it is only a matter of split seconds to victory,  all participants are winners, I believe.  Just being able to participate in the Olympic Games is a sign of greatness. 

Among Olympic virtues is also an intangible quality that cannot be measured but is certainly noticed by even the casual observer - a nobility, courage, and indelible humanity of an Olympian that supercedes their physical prowess.  Most notable is Zofia Noceti-Klepacka, from Poland who recently won the Bronze medal in Olympic windsurfing. Even before the start of the London Summer Olympic Games, Zofia vowed that if she were to win a medal she would auction it off.  Her motives were purely altruistic, intending to give the proceeds to a neighour whose child is stricken with cystic fibrosis.

Doubtless there are and have been many other Olympic athletes whose sacrifices have been as selfless and generous. I for one would like to make them a symbol for all the world to emulate. Its not the content of the medal but of the heart that truly matters. Isn't that the most admirable quality of an Olympian, or any athlete for that matter?

May joy and good fellowship reign, and in this manner, may the Olympic Torch pursue its way through ages, increasing friendly understanding among nations, for the good of a humanity always more enthusiastic, more courageous and more pure.       

 Pierre de Coubertin

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