Is your all time hero Mother Teresa, Amelia Earhardt, Abraham Lincoln, Princess Diana or Michael Phelps? Perhaps your hero is Mohhamed Ali or Martin Luther King Jr. All of these passionate historical heroes are truly special and brave. According to Encarta, a “hero” is somebody who commits an act of remarkable bravery or who has shown an admirable quality. Whoever your hero is- you more than likely admire him for his character and his actions.
During the London 2012 Olympics this year, heroes have truly emerged. 19-year old Usain Bolt won the gold medal in track and field while showing his flair and pride. He made history as the first man ever to win the sprint double, twice. And of course, Michael Phelps has won the most Olympic medals-ever! What persistence and dedication he has had!
There are many athletes that do not make the headlines, however anyone who tried out for and also made it to the Olympics are role models. Years of training and perseverance led them to compete among the best athletes in the world. They believed in and then chased their own dream. That is inspiring in itself!
One unlikely hero, who inspires me to simply “try it” is Wojad Shaherkani, a woman athlete from Saudi Arabia. She is one of the first woman athletes EVER representing and competing in the Olympics for her country. Prior to the London 2012 Olympics, Saudi Arabia did not permit women to perform in the Olympics. This 16-year old judo competitor, stuck to her Islamic practices. She competed in her head covering, even though judo is a contact sport. The strict dress code did not allow her to wear the traditional Saudi head scarf, so she wore a swim cap instead. Perhaps she was thinking, “I can do it my way, and your way. You won’t stop me.” Her acts were brave and I truly admire that her actions speak volumes. Many people spoke negatively of her athletic participation and still do. Coming from a country where women are denied equal rights, Wojad pressed forward and stood up for Arab women. She wasn’t being an extremist, but a hero, instead!
Age has not stopped certain athletes. The most decorated Olympic Basketball player ever, Teresa Edwards holds the record as both the youngest and the oldest Olympic gold medalist in women’s Basketball. She was 20 at her first Olympics and 36 at her last. I am sure that over the years, she thought to herself, “why stop”?
15-year old Gabrielle Douglass is the first African-American to win the gold medal for gymnastics. She competed against world champions and world record holders. Her poise, focus, and stamina allowed her to perform with a smile. Her many years of training paid off. Do you think she ever felt out of place at the gym? If so, she didn’t let that sway her or steal her confidence.
The Olympics are a great tool and backdrop for teaching our children to be strong and brave. When my children viewed the pole vault, high jump, running and diving events-they were amazed and attentive. They had never before seen someone do such interesting feats. My daughter became a gymnast at home, while watching the competitors. My youngest son was inspired to jump-a lot! I was both surprised and happy to see them enjoy watching the Olympics. Perhaps, it was like a live action video game to them. Most of all, I want them to partake in hard work, display confidence and persist when things seem hard. I thank these athletes for their inspiration!