August 2nd, 2012 by CrispRoot
Exercise and be healthy. You hear that a lot these days, and for good reason. But, for now, let’s not focus on what we can do for ourselves, but on those who represent the highest levels of what exercise and eating right can do for you – the athletes of the 2012 Summer Olympics.
You know what – it’s obvious these guys (“guys” being a generic term, the girls are included) – eat right and exercise, so let’s look at the rest of it: the Ol y mpic Spirit.
Sure, there’s this Olympics’ version of “the Dream Team”, USA basketball’s way of saying the ’72 officiating fiasco will never, ever have a chance of happening again – and the IOC loving it because all those NBA stars mean ratings gold.
But how about Hamadou Djibo Issaka, the novice rower from Niger? Nicknamed “the Sculling Sloth”, he has a massive amount of strength, but very little form – and absolutely no chance of winning a medal. He finishes dead last in his events, and not by a little. Does he care? Not in the slightest.
Some complain he shouldn’t be there – but why? The Olympics are about inclusion, about every country getting a chance to send their best athletes to compete, and for those athletes to make friends with other athletes from around the world. It’s a great way to get past nationalistic posing and the world political scene, and to learn that when it gets down to it, none of us are all that different.
Before anyone says, “Look at the results. Is this the best Niger can do?”, consider this: Issaka is an awesome athletic specimen, strong beyond belief – he just lacks the technique that comes from all the coaching and training the other competitors get on a routine basis. If he ever gets those, look out.
It happened because he does his absolute best, gets his butt kicked anyway, yet smiles through every second of it. This guy gets it. Winning is nice, and if you have a shot at winning, you need to go for it… but at the Olympics, it’s not just about winning. It’s about doing your best in competition, and then exemplifying the Olympic spirit regardless of the results. Being human matters. It comes first.
Issaka was advised not to go to the opening ceremonies, because he had an early morning event the next day. He went anyway, because he wanted to soak in every second of his Olympic experience. Does he regret his decision, considering how badly he got mauled in his event? Not in the slightest. He knew he didn’t have a realistic chance to begin with. So, he competed, he did his best, and he lost… but the night before he saw fireworks for the first time in his life – and he has won over an entire world.
He may have finished last in all his events, but Issaka gets the gold for being the athlete who best exemplifies the Olympic Spirit. He may not have any physical medals to take home, but he has won a lifetime of memories, a lifetime of good will, and a world of new friends.
This guy gets it. Good for him.
Stay healthy, my friends!
* Issaka photo credit: Darren Whitesdie, Reuters