Monday, April 12, 2010

Olympian Courage

Valerie Steimle

As the Olympics came to a close, I have reflected on the example of one athlete. The courage of Joanie Rochette from Quebec , Canada was amazing. Two days before Joanie was to compete in the woman’s figure skating, her mother (Theresa Rochette-age 55) had a massive heart attack and passed away after arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter perform.

Almost anyone experiencing tragedy like that would have pulled out of the competition. In such a competitive sport, each participant has to have full body and mind concentration to do well. Joanie Rochette did above and beyond what any 24 year-old figure skating athlete would have done under the circumstances. She stepped out on the ice with grace and great composure and skated her best performances to win the bronze medal taking third place behind two excellent skaters from South Korea and Japan . Canada hadn’t won any medals for women’s singles skating since Elizabeth Manley won the silver in Calgary in 1988.

It was an amazing experience to watch Joanie, knowing what her heart was feeling for the death of her mother, as she performed her skating routines. She carried on with great courage and became an Olympic favorite because of her remarkable character. How many of us would be able carry on so well after losing a loved one so close to us? She was even given the distinguished honor of carrying her country’s flag in the closing exercises on Sunday night. She didn’t think she deserved the honor because her performance on ice was awarded third place but after talking with many of her own country’s athletes she changed her mind. They explained to her how her determination and character had greatly helped them get through their own performances and she was absolutely the right person to carry their flag.

It is so refreshing to see how the life of one athlete could have such a positive affect on so many people. We all have trials to overcome but how many of us would continue on as Joanie did? We have become a world of only thinking of ourselves. We think what is best for us instead of what would be best for everyone around us. Joanie could have walked away from the competition and we would have all understood why but she chose the better path to complete what she started.

As Robert Frost so eloquently wrote in his poem The Road Not Taken, “I took the one less traveled by and that made all the difference”. Joanie Rochette took the road less traveled by. She did her best and that made all the difference.

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