Olympic Heroes

It is impossible not to be swept up in the Olympic fever that has swept the country this past week, especially if you are supporting Team GB! We currently sit 3rd in the medal table and our noble little country has got more medals per head of population than anyone else in the world. It’s a fantastic feeling. I don’t remember a time EVER in the past where British athletes have been so successful, or the support for them has quite as feverish.

While the rest of the country (and the world) are saluting the Jessica Ennis’s and the Mo Farah’s of the Games, I’d like to draw your attention to three people who for me embody what a true Olympic champion is.

Kate Walsh – Kate is the captain of the GB Ladies Hockey team and I saw a headline today that said she was forever having to explain her way through the security at the Games because she has a titanium plate in her face. Wow, I thought, I bet that gets a bit tiresome after a while! But then I read further into the story…

Kate Walsh

Kate is pictured here competing yesterday and as you can see she is wearing some sort of brace on her face. She was hit in the face playing a match last Sunday and her jaw was broken. She had surgery to insert the titanium plate into her face and spent three days in hospital this week to recover, but she was back playing again YESTERDAY in the Olympics. Now, I don’t know about you but I think this woman must have the Olympic spirit fizzing pretty fiercely in her blood to come back from an injury like that and just carry on.

Next, Ellie Black – this young lady is a Canadian gymnast, 16 years old, and was competing in the Vault Final today in her first Olympic Games. She fell at the end of her first vault and it was pretty obvious that she’d hurt herself as she fell. Tragically, even though the vault had gone well, she didn’t land with her feet first on the mat so there was no score for it. (If you didn’t know, the gymnasts have to do two vaults where both are scored and it is the average of those two scores that count for your placing). She looked like she was near to tears as she went back to the start of the runway to do her second vault, and to be honest, I felt near to tears myself especially when the score of “0” came up for her first attempt. She was limping quite badly and her coach did a fantastic job of calming her down before she did her second vault. My heart was in my mouth as she did her run up for the second attempt but she pulled up just shy of the springboard, obviously in pain and deeply upset because this was her Olympic debut going down the drain. She could technically have tried again (the rule is that if you touch the springboard it counts as a vault attempt but if you don’t touch it it is counted as an aborted run up and you can try again) but it was obvious that she was too badly injured. I was so moved by her situation and when I learned later on that the officials brought out a wheelchair for her to go out of the arena, I thought that she just summed up what the Olympics is about. She just didn’t want to admit defeat even though she was facing a zero score for the first vault as well as an injury, and she did her best to have a go at the second one.

Ellie Black

And lastly, Zamzam Mohamed Farah from Somalia. She competed in the Women’s 400m and she was drawn in lane 1 in a heat against Christine Ohuruogu (Team GB). She stood out for two reasons for me: first, she was permitted to race in the first place (she is the first female Somali athlete who has been allowed to compete), and second because even though she had no real chance of making it through to the next round, she gave it her all to get round that track. She eventually finished around 30 seconds after the winner (the whole race only takes about 50 seconds to complete by the elite athletes!) but nevertheless, she was THERE and she DID IT.

Zamzam Mohamed Farah

I am absolutely certain that there will be many more athletes competing at these Games who are as equally heroic, but to me, these three women epitomise what the Olympic ethic is all about.

Each in their own way represent something about what the Olympics means.

While it’s great to celebrate success and winners and gold medals and world records etc, I think it’s worth remembering that those accolades belong to the few, and stories like these women’s are where the true champions are.




9 thoughts on “Olympic Heroes”

  1. None of the athletes had an easy road to make it to Olympic form. Their determination and spirit got them there, and they didn’t leave it at home! I say they are all winners, medal or not.


    1. Thank you! We are not used to this sporting success, it’s unprecedented but the feelgood factor is sky high at the moment in Great Britain. It almost makes us forget about the weather for once!


  2. Awespme post Pam, I’m still tearing up when I think of Ellie Black’s vaults. I know that feeling of injury and you still have skills to get through.
    I stood up crying, yelling and applauding her while she was contemplating her 2nd vault.
    I had heard she broke her ankle at that point (injured not broken) and was going to attempt anyway. I held my breath, my heart stopped….

    …As much as I was cheering her on I’m really glad she did not run to the springboard on that foor. She is young (16) and can quite possibly have one or two more Olympic in her future so it was important that she not increase her injury. She very well could have broken it and that would have ended her career forever in gynastics.

    I am enjoying reading your 2012 Game Reviews. I love Pam your take on things, your viewpoint and opinions. I hope you’ll contine through the week bring us reports, views and what you’re thinking.

    Go Teams GB & USA!!!


    1. I was crying with her too, she was so brave to attempt that second run up. And I agree with you that she was wise in the end not to go through with it and risk having worse injuries that would have lasted much longer and could have affected her future career. At 16 she must have gone through a whole cauldron of emotions in those few minutes between vaults. I won’t be posting today….I’m keeping my powder dry for tomorrow! (And I’m loving watching all this sport on TV too lol!)


  3. Congratulations to your country and it’s medals, Pam. Your pride is showing in this post, along with the athletes who worked so hard to participate in the games.

    May they win many more!

    Blessings – Maxi


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