Saturday, January 25, 2014

SOCHI

If you're reading this blog, you are probably a runner, or you are someone who has experienced fulfillment as well as frustration as you strive to achieve your goals. Those goals vary with the individual. For some, it may be a rededication to living a healthy life. For others it might be weight loss. We have racing goals, distance marks, timetables. We train, we overcome injury and adversity. We do our best to reach our objectives.

I believe we, as runners, have great respect for one another, but we also have a deeper appreciation for others, in any sporting endeavor, as we recognize, more than most, what it takes to fulfill a goal.

In 13 days, the XXII Winter Olympic Games will commence in Sochi, Russia. Athletes and their families from around the world will compete to determine who is the best in the world, in sports ranging from alpine skiing to speed skating.

The Olympic Games, first contested around 776 B.C. in ancient Greece, have always represented the spirit of pure competition, as well as peace. The ancient Greeks would pause their wars in order conduct the Games.

Today, however, in our sensationalized world, evil elements threaten the pure nature of the Olympics.

Beginning with the 1972 Munich massacre, when terrorists killed 11 members of the Israeli Olympic wrestling team, individuals and organized groups have sought to use the Olympic Games in order to make a statement, using violence and death as their weapons of terror.

At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, an individual detonated a bomb that killed 2 people and injured 111 others.

Now, suicide bombers are threatening the Sochi Games.

Years of preparation, both by the athletes and the organizers, are in jeopardy because of cowards, who hope to further their "agendas."

Some athletes, awaiting their Olympic moments, have been forced to urge their families to remain at home, rather than attend the Games and risk harm. Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, has announced that the U.S. is prepared to evacuate Americans should a terrorist attack occur.

Having had a small brush with terror at last year's Boston Marathon, I simply cannot wrap my arms around the twisted minds of those who would inflict terror tactics on innocent people.

The essence of sport is the essence of good. It helps to define us as human beings. Whether one is running, smashing a tennis ball, skiing down a mountain, or swimming through the water, when a person chooses to compete, he or she has instantly achieved hero status in my book, as they, in the words of Teddy Roosevelt, have "Entered the arena."

On the other hand, those who cheat to achieve their goals, as well as those who threaten sporting events as a way to further their cause, are despicable weaklings, unable to truly "compete," either in the arena or in life.

Today would have been the 63rd birthday of American Olympic long distance runner, Steve Prefontaine. In his tragically short life, there was no more fierce competitor than Pre. When the gun sounded, he turned downright nasty. He was the consummate competitor.

We are all Olympians because we are all competitors. The forces of evil will never be defeated, so we must always remain vigilant. It is my hope, our hope, that the Sochi Winter Olympic Games will be conducted flawlessly, and that the best in the sport will compete on the world's biggest stage, so that they, and ONLY they, will be the center of the world's attention.