The Olympics

February 15, 2010

Every four years the greatest winter amateur ( and some professionals) athletes meet in a far off country to put their skills to the test on an international stage for the world to watch. The Olymppics couldn’t come at a better time for Americans: War continues, The Great Recession continues, and political parties remain at each other’s throats. It’s a chance for every nation to capture the nationalistic pride that resides within. It’s a chance to to watch greatness unfold, and unheard of under-dogs rise to the Olympic moment. It is also an opportunity to remember former champions and the the stories that made them apart of the American fabric. Think about the power of the Olympics and the beauty of the 1980 Gold Medal team that issued the question, ” Do you believe in miracles?” or how about Eric Heiden who won five medals in the five speed skating events he entered? How about the nationalistic pride that appeared with the Jamacian Bobsled team?

This year as the Olympics have gotten closer and eventually arrived, I kept coming across a Visa commercial starring the great Olympic speed skater, Dan Jansen. This commercial summarizes the agony that the Jansen family went through as Dan’s sister Jane passed away after a battle with cancer, Leukemia to be specific. Her death coming in the hours before Dan was about to skate in the 500 Meter sprint, a race he was favored to win and one in which he promised his sister he would win for her. He, ultimately, did not win that gold as he fell and crashed out of the medals. The devistation was obvious, yet he carried on and eventually won his Gold six years later.  After his win, Dan Jansen took a victory lap with his daughter, whom I’m assuming was named after his, Jane.

I remember when I was younger how I rooted vehmently for Dan Jansen and his female counterpart Bonnie Blair (who is considered by many to be the Olympian of the Century)  in hopes that they would capture Olympic gold and how happy I was when they eventually did. Seeing this commercial brought up the connection that I had felt for those two particular athletes. This commercial also, instilled a curiousity for what exactly had taken Jane Jansen from her family.  My research led me to the understanding of her battle with cancer.  In addition to learning this I stumbled across the Dan Jansen Foundation.  This foundation takes on Leukemia. If you look through the website you will find this very touching letter from Dan Jansen Dan’s Letter.

Reading this letter made me focus upon the motivation that pushes these athletes and the stories that come to the forefront as they aspire to achieve Olympic immortality. I’m looking forward to the Olympic magic that is sure to occur, as much as I’m fixated on what is to come, I’m enjoying the emotional  look back  at former champions and their stories.

(I’m sorry this post isn’t better prepared, but my iPhone app keeps cutting me off, so I had to post a little earlier then I would like.)

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