One of my friends recently told me that he doesn’t understand what the BFD is with the Olympics. I was too busy dramatically gesticulating while exclaiming things like “but! but! crazy events! patriotism! the whole world is excited with you! have you SEEN the triple jump?! SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING IS INSANE!” to respond to him articulately. If I’d collected my thoughts properly, I might have tried to explain that there’s a magical quality of the Olympics that doesn’t come with any other sporting event. Not only do we get an excuse to be patriotic in a way that doesn’t seem offensive or jingoistic, but you get to support athletes from around the world based on their heartwarming stories and/or their ridiculous good looks. And when all else fails, we can unite around a common enemy (looking at you, 2008 Chinese Gymnastics Team).
Yesterday, Megan looked at the London 2012 athletes who are inspiring our lady parts. Today, let’s look at some of the athletes who are just plain old inspirational.
Guor Marial, Marathon
My FAVORITE story so far is about Guor Marial, the South Sudanese refugee who is running under the Olympic flag. Although he’s been living in the United States for 11 years, he hasn’t received citizenship because his background check hasn’t gone through yet. Since South Sudan isn’t sending any athletes this year, the Olympic committee made a special exception for him to run without a country. I wonder what they’ll play if he wins. Does he get to pick his own anthem? I suggest he contact Robyn and convince her to record a special song called “Running On My Own.”
Missy Franklin, Swimming, USA
There’s nothing particularly crazy or inspiring about Missy’s story, I just like her. She’s only 17 years old, but she’s already being compared to Michael Phelps. Not surprising, as just like Phelps, she’s competing in seven events. SEVEN. Despite her rise to fame and the high expectations placed on her, she seems like a very grounded and nice teenager. I’m really afraid she’ll turn into an asshole. STAY AWAY FROM PHELPS, MISSY!
Just like me, Matt Lauer seems to be totally enamoured with her:
Sarah Robles, Weightlifting, USA
Sarah Robles has been in the news lately as the poster child for non-glamorous athletes. So often in the olympics we focus on the Phelps and the Liukins and the Lochtes that we forget about all the other thousands of athletes who aren’t busy getting the glory and the sponsorships. They come from the less publicized sports where the sponsorships are few and far between, but they have to train just as hard as the celebrity athletes.
Robles, it turns out, was living on $400 a month. A month. Now my perception is skewed because where I live, the rent is Too Damn High, but I don’t think I could find a cardboard box to squat in for $400/mo, let alone eat. And Olympic weightlifters have to eat A LOT more than me every day. The good news is, because of all the publicity, Robles got a sponsor! Yay! Now go help all those other athletes who are sponsorless, not just the poster children.
Oscar “Blade Runner” Pistorius, 400m, South Africa
Probably the most popular inspirational news item of late surrounds double amputee Oscar Pistorius, who got an Olympic ban on competing with Prosthetic legs overturned. He will be the first amputee to compete in a Track and Field Event at the Olympics. He will definitely not win, but it is nevertheless a victory. Pistorius will also be competing in the Paralympics, held after the Olympic Games.
Speaking of the Paralympic Games, have you seen this trailer? (via Slate)
The Paralympics look BADASS. I’m envious of you UK types, because Channel 4 is doing constant coverage of the Paralympics, just like the Olympics.
And lastly, turns out you can be racist OR you can compete in the Olympics, but not both. YOU CHOSE WRONG. Well played, Greek Olympic Committee, well played.
Now you’ll know when to cheer extra hard during the Parade of Nations during your Olympics party tomorrow night. What other inspirational stories have we missed?