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The Olympic Spirit: When Heroes Fall

Joined: 2/24/2014
Posts: 2
Words cannot express the disappointment on my mother’s face when Shaun White earned fourth place in the men’s half pipe competition during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. America’s “golden boy” of snowboarding failed to overtake the other competitors. After watching him struggle through his first run, we alleviated our anxieties by assuring ourselves that the second run-the final run-would be spectacular. Surely, Shaun White, king of snowboarding, would pull of his famous trick and seize the gold medal. Of course, one of the most popular winter Olympians of all time, who grew up not far from our own hometown, would regain his composure and take his rightful place on top of the podium.
That was not the case.
With a minor slip on his big finale, Shaun found himself in fourth place, and completely off the medal podium. Every American watching, whether in Sochi or watching from the comfort of a recliner and a Snuggie back in the United States, sighed. For a moment, the only emotion expressed was disappointment. Then a tiny sense of anger arose as Iouri Podladtchikov’s toothy grin filled up the entire screen as he stood incredulously absorbing what he just accomplished.
Nevertheless, in a split second, just as quickly as the anger arose in each American, it subsided. Iouri, still in shock, spoke of his honor in being Shaun’s competitor. He gushed of his admiration and respect, something that takes years to earn in the world of snowboarding. In a later interview the Swiss snowboarder, known as “I-Pod,” also mentioned that he always cheers for Shaun, and that his surprise was just as great as anybody else’s.
In that moment, feeling cliché, I finally understood the true meaning of the Olympics. Like the ending of a John Hughes movie, there was a deeper lesson to it all. Even though our golden boy lost, and for the first time ever America wasn't on the podium for men’s half pipe, it all became okay. Whether or not he was from our country, we all felt pride in Iouri’s medal. Not because America loves to jump on the bandwagon, or because we were cheering for him along the way, but because we came together, as a world united, and witnessed true perfection. That act alone defines the purpose of the Olympic Games.
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