When Tuesday, February 11, 2014 dawned in Sochi, Russia, Canadians at home were still basking in the glow of previous medal wins, including Alex Bilodeau’s astounding gold win in freestyle skiing. Apparently he’s the first athlete to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals in any freestyle skiing event.
Tuesday dawned in Canada with glories of its own, as it brought news of Charles Hamelin’s winning gold in short track speed skating. And then Dara Howell added to the national pride by winning gold through her stunning performance in women’s slopestyle skiing – a brand new event, while Kim Lamarre did herself and our country proud by winning bronze in the same event.
Wonderful! And I’m so happy for them and for us all.
However, several Sochi gaze-raising matters grabbed my attention and that of the world.
First: When Russia’s Anton Gafarov crashed during a semi-final heat in the men’s cross-country sprint a ski broke, but Justin Wadsworth, head coach of the Canadian cross-country team was right there to help. He rushed over to him with a replacement and Gafarov was soon skiing again. That thoughtful act of kindness allowed the Russian to complete his race, and drew international media attention.
It was as though Wadsworth paid forward the kind deed a Norwegian coach Bjorner Haakensmoen performed for a Canadian cross-country skier. He provided Sara Renner with a new Ski pole, when one of hers broke at about the halfway point of a race in the 2006 Olympics. It was ironic that Renner and Becky Scott went on to win silver, while the Norwegian team finished fourth.
A generous spirit manifests a glory greater than that of gold.
Second: Despite her being quite overwhelmed with her gold medal win, Dara Howell overflowed with praise and gratitude to Sara Burke, who died in a skiing accident 2 years before. Sara’s daring had been largely responsible for the addition of this sport to the Olympic roster. Dara gushed with emotion: “This [win and gold medal] is totally for Sara!”
In giving honour where honour is due we gain respect.
And third: Team spirit trumped personal ambition for speed skater Gilmore Junio on Wednesday, Feb. 14. His beautiful, unselfish act in giving up his spot in Wednesday’s 1000 metre race is worthy of note. He realized that his teammate Denny Morrison had a better chance of winning than he. Morrison originally failed to land a spot on account of a fall just before the finishing line in Calgary qualifications.
It was the right move. Junio was on the sidelines energetically cheering Morrison on – yelling himself hoarse as his friend sped his way to a Silver medal for Canada. In his deed Gilmore Junio gave up a personal dream because he saw and embraced a broader, higher vision – his team and his country.
He gave up his relatively weak chance of a podium placement for a greater likelihood of it and for the greater good. Had he skated himself he may have been lost in the crowd of ‘also rans.’ His humble generosity however, propelled him into an unexpected lime-light.
Giving up a dream for a higher vision is no loss, but gain.
These gaze-raising incidents on part of Canadian Olympians represent only three from a small slice of the Sochi Olympics. I’m sure there will be many more happening, whether the media gets a hold of them or not, for most generosity occurs in secret.
A parting thought:
A kind deed arising from a generous spirit soars above
the competitive crowd.
Care to share an Olympic or recent incident that raised your gaze?
Thanks to CBC, CTV and various other media outlets for the information from which I compiled this post.
Online pic sources: HowellLamarre – yahoo.sports.com ; JWadsworthAGfarovSochi – pbs.twin.com/ ; GilmoreJulio –yahoo.sport.com ; portrait – yahoo.sports.com from speed skating Canada .
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