Good Call: Awarding Olympic honor


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clairesheadshotClaire Fahy
Editor-in-Chief

In an event as widely watched as the Olympic Games, there are a lot of moments. Usain Bolt’s dazzling defense of his 100 and 200-meter gold medals, Michael Phelps’s accomplishment of becoming the greatest Olympian of all time, and Gabby Douglas’s history-making achievement of All-Around and Team Gymnastic gold were all special in their own ways. But as inspiring as any of those moments may have been, they were not the defining moment of the games.

What did define the 30th Olympiad was a simple and seemingly inconsequential interaction. South African Oscar Pistorious, the famed “blade runner” who runs on controversial prosthetic legs, came last in his 400-meter semi-final, beaten by the 19-year-old Kirani James of Grenada. Before beating his chest and taking a dramatic victory lap like so many of his peers, James turned back to Pistorious and asked to exchange bibs.

It was a small gesture, one that James most likely hadn’t premeditated or planned out extensively. But the message that it sent was refreshing and clear. That race was not about James, a young upstart who is dominating his field at an incredibly young age. It wasn’t even about Pistorious, who has overcome all odds to participate in an able-bodied event as a disabled runner. It was about the true spirit of the Olympics.

In an age where people care less about what athletes do and more what they wear, drink and eat thanks to lucrative advertising deals, both the elite athletic community and the general public have lost sight of what it truly means to compete on such a revered international stage.

It isn’t unusual to see Usain Bolt showboating before races in his cutting-edge gear and customized headphones, mocking his competitors and playing to the camera. He may be the “fastest man in the world” but when it comes to ego, he is just like everybody else.

This is where James and Pistorious stood apart. Both of them are stars in their field, but for once, both managed to remember that it is a privilege and an honor to be able to do what they do, and both treated each other with the respect they both deserved.

In an event like the Olympic Games, there are a lot of moments. It took just one to remind me why I watch them in the first place.

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