Go For the Gold!

By Blair Lindler

There’s something about the Olympics… And in every set of games, there is at least one stand out Olympian. In Athens and Beijing, it was largely Michael Phelps. He was the star that seemingly everyone couldn’t stop talking about. But this year in London, we’ve had several athletes that have stood out for their amazing abilities and personalities. Ryan Lochte—the swimmer who has given Michael Phelps a serious run for his money (and even beat him!). Gabby Douglas – dubbed “the flying squirrel” for her breathtaking gymnastic abilities, and who is the first African American woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics! Rebecca Soni, Missy Franklin, and Katie Ledecky – all swimmers who won gold in various events, each in amazing and hold-your-breath-while-they-finish races. I mean – seriously amazing and inspiring athletes who have worked so hard for where they are.

But I’ll be honest – that’s not who I want to talk about.

THIS is who I want to talk about:

His name, Oscar Pistorius. A 25 year old athlete representing South Africa on carbon fiber blades (from which he gets the nick name “Blade Runner”). He was born without fibulas in either of his legs, which led to the double amputation of his feet as an infant. He worked so hard that he beat the Paralympic sprinting records… and then dared to dream bigger than competing in the Paralympics: to compete in the Olympics, against able bodied athletes who had all of their limbs. And guess what? After fighting a legal battle to even be able to try out for the games (no spot on the team guaranteed), he’s not only on the Track & Field Team, but he’s competing in an individual event – the 400 meter race (unthinkable to so many just four years ago).

He is only 1.22 seconds slower in the 100m race than Usain Bolt’s (dubbed “the Fastest Man in the World”) 2008 Olympic Record time. He is only 1.28 seconds slower in the 200m race than Usain Bolt’s 2008 Olympic Record time. And in the 400m race that he will compete in? On July 19, 2011, Oscar was only 1.89 seconds slower than the world record set in 1999 by Michael Johnson. And as I’m writing this blog post on Saturday August 4th, Oscar placed 2nd in his 5 man heat to proceed to the 400m semi-finals on Sunday August 5th. Again – no feet, no calves.

Amazed yet?

“Don’t do something or start something unless you’re going to finish it.  And don’t do something unless you’re going to give it 100%.”– Oscar Pistorius

If we all lived by this mantra, imagine what we would be able to achieve. So frequently my own excuses and complaints get in the way of achieving what I want (am I alone in this?). But then I see a man like Oscar Pistorius – and those excuses and complaints get put in their place real fast… Athletes like Oscar are wonderful role models for the able-bodied and the not-able-bodied alike. His determination is infectious, and I simply had to share his story with you — to help you see that you truly can do anything you set your mind to.

“Clear your mind of can’t.” – Samuel Johnson

It’s time for me to take Oscar’s lead and to clear my mind of the word “can’t”. To finish what I start. And to give it 100%. Who’s with me?

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