Sunday, August 17, 2008
Going Gold With True Talent
In all the Olympic hype, I find that one gold blends into one silver blends into one bronze...well, maybe not the 8 golds with which Phelps cleaned up...but you get the point.
What stands out in my mind though is the Girl from Ethiopia who won the First Gold Metal in all of Africa...and she took it before Canada took our first Gold. Interesting that a country which is ranked among the poorest not only with most of the world but even within it's own continent, would be the first to take home Gold. There are no million dollar tracks in Ethiopia, not many elite treadmills, and I am quite sure that Tirunesh Dibaba (the 23 year old metalist) did not wear any $300 runners while in the early stages of her training. (By the way, this training took place at any time she could, before or after school and chores. She had barefeet and the dirt roads were her track.) Her drive and determination not to be stuck in a life of poverty and destitution, were her coaches and trainers early on. Her raw talent has been refined, strengthened, and she has pushed herself in ways that many trainers push their athletes in training.
In some consumer-world way, it's sweet to know that for some athletes it is the raw talent and genetic composition...not the Nike, Saucony, Aquafina, Coke, and numberous other lucrative companys' financial endorsements or elite trainers...that really do win out. I'm not trying to minimize the need for hard training, for hours of sweat, sprints, and sports drinks. I am however, trying to capitalize on the fact that if we go back, if we go way back through ancestries and through generations of multiple familial couplings, we will see that for some of these olympians, the pre-determined make-up is how the raw talent and the specific strengths came to be.
Last night while listening to Donovan Bailey critique some runners and reflect upon his own experiences, I couldn't help but wonder; While he is a Canadian Citizen, he was born Jamaican. He obtained his citizenship after moving to Canada at the age of 11 years old. Does a person, when they fight, earn, and win gold in something as world reknown as the Olympics...does he feel Canadian pride? Does he feel Jamaican pride? Or, does he feel that he has won a metal for both of his countries? How has his heritage and his upbringing affected his feelings about cultural pride?
I'd love to know.