Viewers can find plenty of stories within medal counts and gold-winning performances, but this Olympics has produced several golden stories that didn’t make the television coverage. It’s great to celebrate Olympic wins and events with your kids, but don’t forget to point out that Olympics are as much about character as performance.
Drive, ambition, determination—these are all great qualities, but throw in character and heart and you have a true champion. Among some of the more inspiring stories from the Winter Olympics:
*Russian cross country skier Anton Gafarov was determined to finish his race despite a broken ski. He wouldn’t have made it on his own, but Justin Wadsworth, a Canadian Team Coach, helped him out, bringing him an extra ski. It just goes to show that good sportsmanship knows no national boundaries.
*Canadian Skier Sarah Burke was instrumental in petitioning the Olympic Committee to add halfpipe skiing to the Winter Olympics. A champion for the sport, she died in a training accident in 2012. Before the Olympic halfpipe event, athletes and coaches performed a touching tribute to Burke, with her mother, Jan Phelan, watching in the audience. Remembering the people who help to get you to your dream is as sweet as fulfilling that dream.
*Japan’s Mao Asada was a medal favorite going into the Winter Olympics, but her disastrous short program placed her too far back in a pack of very talented skaters for even a shot at a medal. That kind of fear and embarrassment can debilitate the best, but Asada delivered an amazing free skate performance, garnering one of the highest scores in the Olympics, despite being out of medal contention. Performing your best isn’t always about proving it to the world as much as it is about proving it to yourself.
*Swiss cross-country skier Dario Cologna won a gold medal in Men’s Cross Country Skiing in a close finish. Cross country skiing is an exhausting sport that requires a great deal of recuperation. Still, Cologna waited for nearly a half hour for the last two athletes to cross the finish line so he could shake their hands. It’s nice to see Little League traditions can carry over to the Olympics.
*The Sochi Winter Olympics are the first for 21-year-old Heidi Kloser, a world class skier. Her Olympic dreams were cut short during practice on the mogul course in Sochi; she fractured her femur, tore her ACL and MCL, and was out of competition. Heartbroken to get so close and not be able to compete, she asked her parents as they rode in the ambulance with her if she was still an Olympian. Her thought was that if she wasn’t competing, she was no longer qualified to use the title; her parents however, immediately assured her that she was and is an Olympian. In a mere matter of hours, she was excitedly tweeting pictures of her ice-encased leg as she headed to the Opening Ceremonies. By making the team, she is an Olympian—plain and simple, but her positive and persistent attitude shows she also has the heart of a true Olympic champion.
What have been your favorite non-medal moments?