Olympic Heroes Of The Week!

Simone Biles wins bronze medal on balance beam at the Olympics

Of course the lovely Simone Biles is gonna score my billboard capture in this week’s special Olympic edition. Because she just won the best damn bronze medal in the history of ever. After removing herself from the final three events in the women’s all-around last week, her team held on for a silver medal while this young lady held onto her mental well being. It was a win merging with an even bigger win. And it was made all the more beautiful when Simone was the first American to congratulate Russian gymnast Angelina Melnikova after her team won the gold.

And then this week happened and Simone came back. She competed in the balance beam and while she wasn’t quite her championship self, she was plenty good enough to gain the podium yet again. And I have to think this bronze medal is going to mean every bit as much as all the other medals she has earned in her career. Because this one is representative of her every day struggle, where winning and losing take a backseat to peace of mind.

“I was just happy to be able to perform regardless of the outcome,” Biles said. “I did it for me and I was proud of myself for being able to compete one more time.”

The result was worth its weight in gold.

It is the true spirit' - Olympics athletics gold shared for the first time in 113 years

What’s the only thing better than a gold medal at the Olympics? How about two gold medals? That is how it went down when Mutaz Essa Barshim of Quatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy ended up tied in the men’s high jump finals after four jumps each. An Olympic official informed them they had two choices: They could take part in a jump-off, or they could share the gold. Moments later, Tamberi was jumping into the arms of his friend and rival when Barshim decided on the latter.

Barshim explained it this way. “He is one of my best friends, not only on the track, but outside the track. We work together. This is a dream come true. It is the true spirit, the sportsman spirit, and we are here delivering this message,”

A cynic might scoff at the idea that the medal wasn’t settled on the field, but I really can’t blame the guys for choosing to share gold after watching the sheer joy on their faces. Let’s face it, they did something most athletes can only dream about.

They won a tie.

Belarus' Krystsina Tsimanouskaya 'won't return' home after Olympics

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus has a story that puts everything in perspective. In her homeland, opposition leaders disappear and dissidents are threatened with assassination. Freedom of speech doesn’t stand a chance in a country that will silence anyone who speaks out about the government’s business in general, or president Alexander Lukashenko in particular. And it is in this vein that Tsimanouskaya found herself in the crosshairs of a “higher up”. And while I’m not saying this individual was the guy currently serving a sixth-term as President, I ain’t saying it isn’t.

The trouble began after the sprinter complained on Instagram that she had been forced to run the 4×400 relay by team officials, even though she had never competed in it before. She was subsequently banned by the team from participating in the 200 meters; a decision she tried to fight legally, but lost.

Tsimanouskaya was then told she needed to take the next flight home, where she would face “punishment” for her outspoken behavior. Thankfully she was intercepted and taken to the Polish embassy in Japan, after which she was flown to Vienna. Upon hearing the news, her husband travelled to Ukraine and hopes to be reunited with her soon. This ordeal has changed Krystsina’s definition of ‘home’.

Now, it’s wherever she can be reacquainted with her family.

Heading into Tokyo, American Lily King was the prohibitive favorite to defend her title as queen of the breaststroke; the defending Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion hadn’t lost the event since 2015.

But that’s why they play the games. Because South African swimmer Tatjana Schoenmaker had something else in mind. And if breaking the world record (held by King) wasn’t an expectation, guess what? It happened. As a result, Schoenmaker is bringing home South Africa’s first gold medal in a quarter century.

But the reason this story makes it to Friday is because of what happened next. If you want the cheat code on this video, fast-forward to 2:42 when she touches the wall, followed by King. And then a group hug that reminds us why we watch the games, and why we love them so.

Tokyo Olympics: U.S. Runner Helps Competitor to Finish Line After Fall | PEOPLE.com

Imagine being thisclose to realizing a life long dream, and then in the next moment, it’s gone just like that.

Isaiah Jewett doesn’t have to imagine this scenario, seeing as how he experienced it in the men’s 800 meters. As the runners were kicking up their heels for one final push around the curb, Jewett could feel it. He had a top two run within his reach, which was going to put him in the finals. And then Botswana’s Nijel Amos clipped him from behind and the two men were collapsing to the ground, taking that Olympic dream with them.

“I just felt like when I was starting to lift, somebody hit the back of my heel and that caused me to fall,” Jewett said. “It was devastating. I’m not going to lie.”

Out of this stunning loss came something you can’t practice. When Jewett got to his feet, he helped his opponent up and then the two men embraced as Amos offered his apologies before they set off once again, buoyed by a spirit that defines what these games truly mean. Because while winning and losing belong to the headlines temporarily, sportsmanship has keep. When they arrived at the finish line, Amos yielded so that Jewett could finish ahead of him.

It was the kind of moment not even a podium could top.

 

62 thoughts on “Olympic Heroes Of The Week!

  1. B

    How glad am I that you decided on an Olympic Heroes of the week because, frankly, they deserve a spot in this here beautiful amalgamation of worthy recipients.

    Yes and yes to Simone Biles. I was so damn proud of her for sticking to her guns and taking care of herself. As we know, it’s not always in the coaches’ or even countries’ best interests (all about the glory and the bucks) interests to do so. We just have to think of that poor Soviet gymnast Elena Mukhina who was forced to perform despite not being ready. So yes, Simone, you take care of YOU. And look at that? A beautiful bronze medal to display!

    I love the Barshim/Tamberi story. Sharing a gold is not something to be ashamed of.

    This Belarussian story gets my goat. I am SO glad the Polish embassy was able to stop that from happening. I am a little stunned that her husband was allowed to leave to go join her. I imagine with the eyes of the world watching, they were pretty much obliged to. Still… they don’t usually give a shit, do they? Thank goodness Tsimanouskaya is safe.

    I swear I got tears in my eyes watching all the women surround Tatjana Schoenmaker upon seeing that she had beaten the world record with that spectacular win. Such a beautiful thing!

    Ah man… Jewett and Amos – You never want to see collisions (or clips) happen in these races for every reason imaginable. The clipper always goes down with the clippee and there is no way in hell they would ever do this on purpose. These two embodied what sportsmanship is.

    What a PERFECT piece of music to use for this episode of Heroes because it perfectly embodies what the Olympics are all about.

    Beauty of a post, B.

    Q

    Like

    • Q

      It was something I hadn’t thought of until I started watching the Amos and Jewett story, and it hit me. Why not the Olympics? And NO basketball!

      No easy task, to score a bronze after coming out last week and letting the world know she wasn’t right. But she was out there, and she got a medal. Amazing.

      No way. That gold was a decade or more in the making. All the practices, all the early morning runs, all the preparation and competition. They overcame doubts and scores of opponents to get to that question. So WHO would say no to a gold medal when it’s done?

      Let’s hope her parents can get out safely as well, since they are also there. I mean, if the President decided to be a hard ass, there isn’t much the US could do.

      That was the thing. To watch Lazar and King swim up to her and the four of them coming together in a hug. They truly were happy for her.

      It happens. It’s got to be the worst feeling for Amos, because it’s one thing to mess up your own chances, but to mess up someone else’s? That’s tough stuff. They handled it like champions.

      Love those guys.

      Grazie!

      B

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whatever inspires, I say. And right. No basketball!.

        She is an inspiration. Amazing to go out after all the brouhaha and still medal! No words.

        As you know, there are those who say it should have gone to a tie-breaker – though honest to gawd. How the hell can you jump higher than you jumped? I think it was a beautiful thing.

        Oh man. I didn’t think of them! Let us hope they don’t do what they could.

        They were. You can see that it is a genuine joy that is shared. What it’s all about.

        They really did. Both of them. Jewett could have been too angry to see past the horror Amos had to have been feeling. But no. They both showed tremendous grace.

        Me too! As you know, of course.

        Prego!

        Liked by 1 person

        • However it woiks, so long as it woiks And nope, I’m paying attention to ball, but it doesn’t rate a mention here.

          She’s a tough little lady. I think she showed true grit, going out there with the world looking on.

          It comes down to, if you can score a gold AND your friend can score a gold, why in the blessed Jim Thorpe would you say nope?

          I think , I hope, they will be okay since there is such an awareness of the situation.

          It IS what the games are about. And hey, it’s still the games we remember. They can’t take that away.

          They did, and I love the story for how they were able to come together like that in the heat of the moment. It’s a lesson in patience and understanding if ever there was one.

          I do.

          Yaya!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I feel ya. We grab what woiks and run wid it.

            She is. I like to think she has started a precedent in the manner of, the mental body is as important as the physical one. Period.

            Right? How cool is that?

            Oh gosh, I do hope so.

            It truly is. And no, we can’t.

            Yes. So much so. A lesson in humanity, grace under pressure, comprehension and compassion.

            I love that you do.

            Woo hoo!

            Liked by 1 person

          • There are so many great stories for these games. I seem to remember when the talking heads were talking about how the games were going to suck. Not so much, the athletes always make it special.
            I know athletes have been less reticent to come out with their stories over the last several years, and I think Biles can be a torch.

            The idea that no fans in the stands was going to be some sort of deal breaker was always short sighted. Sure the athletes wanted that little bit extra, but as these games have shown, they ain’t hurting in the least.

            MUAH!

            Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, there are. And yeah, peeps thought the Olympics would suck with no one in the stands. The athletes have shown us what they are made of and it’s been spectacular.

            Yes, they have been. And maybe some of their stories come out in those little snippets our networks make of them but to do as Biles did where all and sundry can know about it? Bravo, young lady. Let that torch flame high.

            Hah! I really should read your whole comment before I start responding…
            It really was short-sighted and I think the athletes really shone despite that. And you know, much as it’s great to hear cheers for your team, it was nice to have the cameras focussed solely on them!!

            MWAH!

            Liked by 1 person

          • The only thing I missed was the lack of flash bulbs filling the foreground during the 100 meter events. That does add to the spectacle of it all. But again, the athletes were always going to fill the voids, and they did so in spectacular fashion.

            We all get it. Those snippets are made for TV. But these athletes transcend a two minute intro.

            I don’t think these games missed a beat, to tell you the truth.

            MUAH!

            Like

  2. Great stories, Marc. I hope some of our right and left-leaning friends read the story of Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and take a lesson. The other heroes were just that heroes. Thanks for shining a nice light on the special moments.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is the best rendition of Amazingly Grace I have ever heard!! The Olympics, to me, has always been about sportsmanship and teamwork and camaraderie. It is a way for the world to come together and cheer each other on. It’s nice to see that this year they are going back to that. They should all be congratulated!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too, Pam.

      The Olympics, when you break it down, is still the one we remember. These athletes want to win more than anything, but they also have achieved so much just by being there. And you can almost feel it when they come together, the relief they share, together. The appreciation.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Eilene!

      Yeah, you’re right about that. I think its impressive as all get out just to MAKE it to the Olympics. And then to score a medal . . any medal, Remarkable.

      These stories were everywhere. And it happens at every games.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We are on the same page because these are some of the stories that also stand out to me. As a matter of fact, I had something like this in mind for you … so thanks for getting this done! As a long-time supporter of their talents, thanks for The Piano Guys. … PS: Thanks for mentioning a few of the athletes that caught my eye.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Of course we are Cincy, as if it’s a surprise 😉

      And the best part is, there is plenty more to cull from these games. It’s been special.

      The Piano Guys always hit it out of the park.

      Like

  5. I am usually glued to the Olympics, but I have not had enough time this summer. I am so glad I decided to check in on one of my favorite online writers and catch this post. I, a normally heartless soul, have all kinds of feels!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Dude did I tell you this is a House of Sports? I love that you had an Olympic highlight. I totally dig these stories as I watched unfold before my very own TV. I loved seeing the genuine enthusiasm-surprise-joy on Shoenmaker. She totally rocked it and the sportsmanship that followed that warmed my heart. I’m super glad that Belarus athlete was able to find safe haven, and that her husband saw it and was able to begin his journey to find her. I am still reminded that even today, some people can’t say anything because of fear of facing physical harm. I’m so glad she is safe. Then you finish with Jewett and Amos oh man! When that happens it totally breaks my heart. It breaks it. I feeeeeeeeeeeeel for them, I know that athletic pain but not at an Olympic level. But as they both got up and then finished I was like dude give me some Kleenex. My favorite of course was of the high jumpers, ha! Did you see Gianmarco’s reaction when the other guy said yes? I LOVED IT! The best sportsmanship story. Can we have two gold medals? Um … yes! Such a great feel good moment! Your highlight reel and remembering these moments made this morning even better!

    Plus I had never heard that version of Fight Song. Super moving! You did again hermano, hope and feel-goods at the Olympics. when we’re already feeling it, you take it up a notch like Emeril. Bam! Sending you sunshine and waves 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do know you run the House of Sports in Cali, and I think it’s great how you and the kids do that. Among so many other things the three of you share.

      As for the stories, it was so easy and uplifting and inspiring, because I think these games showed us that no matter what, the games go on. They don’t need any pre-production magic in order to give us something special either.

      From the swimmers and that sweet group hug that just happened. To the Italian high jumper doing a Yogi Berra into his pal’s arms when he knew they were BOTH gold medal winners, to runners who devote their entire lives to an endeavor, and then inside the most crushing moment, come out of it like champions. As for the girl from Belarus, I hope her family is re-united soon, that situation is frightening.

      The Piano Guys always hit a homer.

      Boom!

      Bam!

      Sunshine and waves back atcha hermana

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I just got to mention the Canadian women’s soccer team winning gold… they have inspired me incredibly this week. That story of the sprinter… that reminds me that life is inextricably more involved and large… a good reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

    • And yanno what, good! I have to admit, the US girls turned me off with their attitude. It was nice to see someone else win gold. And Canada, how can you not love it?

      It’s a split second, TL. It changed the entire dynamic of a life whose purpose was to score the podium. In that split second, gone. So yanno . . when you watch how he reacted in that moment . . it’s remarkable. It’s the best of us right there. And it gives us zero excuse to fly off the handle when given time and space to breathe and think before making asses of ourselves. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This post has me a shiver.
    It’s not the winners and losers. It’s the sportsmanship you have pointed out so eloquently here.
    Good sport, bad sport…my mom was big on this lesson. It was one of her messages that got through my young thick skull, and stuck.
    I’ve been barking to anyone who will listen. What ever happened to sportsmanship?
    Some politicians, and some people whose politician loses, need to embrace this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It truly is the sportsmanship that shone through in these last couple weeks, Resa. As it always does.

      I was always a good sport. Probably because I was good at sports but not great, so I was humbled enough to learn.

      Sportsmanship should never go out of style, if you ask me. The world might be going to shit, but we don’t need that mentality to bleed into sports.

      I don’t have much hope that politicians will learn anything.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Standout stories Marc, as always. Gotta admit, lack of crowds took edge off olympics for me, like it did watching my team play in an empty stadium last year. But good people still all round, so thanks for reminding us

    Liked by 1 person

  10. IDK but maybe without all their “support teams” i.e paid handlers around them, the athletes got to perform as what they are, human beings instead of meal tickets! I guess that may apply mainly to the professionals or near professionals. You know, those who get paid to play in other venues, like tennis and basketball, or those who garner big endorsements to supplement their more meager professional earnings, like swimming, gymnastics and soccer. Maybe even beach volleyball? I sure loved those commercials with April Ross and her mother, though.

    I just have one “nit” re Ms. Biles. I really couldn’t understand why she thought it was the thing to do, to go for more gold when she was already identified by everyone as the GOAT. IDK, maybe she herself didn’t think that? If that’s the case then karma or the gods of gymnastics got the competition to where I really wanted to see it.

    I’m not an athlete but never really wanted to challenge myself or my limits in anything anyway, which was I think the reason Biles gave for going back one more time. In the end she proved she is after all just a human being like all her competitors who I’m glad had the chance to strut their stuff and receive some unexpected appreciation and recognition for what they could do, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah I can’t relate to that level in the least. I was always a lover of sports and the competition, but simply loving it and being good at it isn’t the same as what these individuals have accomplished. I tip my hat to ’em.

      Liked by 1 person

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