A for Athlete

Notes from Oprah's site in September 2008

The ideals of the Olympics are the purest there are; how some people -or countries, or media- choose to behave is not.

There should never be any medal count - it is NOT about one country vs. another. That's the media trying to create an atmosphere of a team sport, to increase interest and therefore viewership, and therefore money. It cheapens the event and sickens me, personally.

The Olympic Motto is "Citius, Altius, Fortius", in Latin, which translates to "Swifter, Higher, Stronger". It is about continually improving oneself - not necessarily to be the best there is. That's why it's not highEST, swiftEST, strongEST. Yes, the gold goes to the bEST, but that is merely an acknowledgment of one who has put everything together for that competition. The motto still holds for them too - even after winning, if you choose to continue to compete in sport, it is the Olympic spirit to continue trying to improve yourself/your performance, and not just rest on your laurel wreath and hope that will be good enough next time around. It is about your personal best.

This motto was introduced by Pierre de Coubertin, who also introduced the motto "The most important thing is not to win, but to take part!". So the preoccupation with medal glory is modern people's perversion of an idyllic event. The Olympics were created to allow everyone to compete to their best, regardless of class or race or religion. (Unfortunately, gender was an issue but those were different times and women, for the most part, did not express an interest in most competition and did not handle physical demands as easily back then). Prior to that, a lot of competition was limited to the wealthy, who would then go on to claim they were the best athlete ~ although their slaves could have beaten them.

I hope that Oprah does not only have the medal winners, as the "Gold! Silver! Bronze!" title suggests. I want to see the 44 year old female race walker who is the oldest track & field athlete to ever make an Olympic team. I want to see the woman who was a gold medal swimmer in 1996, but then went on to compete in triathlons in 2000 & 2004, and then made this year's Olympics in the modern pentathlon - the only female ever to qualify for the Olympics in three different sports. I want to see the athletes who fell over hurdles or dropped the baton or false-started ~ I want to hear not only how they get over something like that (although they probably haven't yet), but what they do to move on.