Sure we watch the Olympics for the fantastic athletic competitions, but what we really love is the human drama behind those achievements. And while the past few days have been full of drama–Michelle Kwan relinquishing her spot, Bode Miller not medaling–it’s the truly Olympic moments of overcoming adversity and elevating the human spirit that keep us glued to the television for 16 straight days.
Team USA speedskater Chad Hedrick, competing in his first Olympics, honored the 13th anniversary of his grandmother Geraldine’s death with a gold medal win, the first for the U.S. Overwhelmed by the memories of his grandmother, Hedrick, who began openly weeping during his warm-up, wrote her name on the blade of his skate and offered up his performance to her.
Days later, fellow speedskating teammate Joey Cheek, who flew to a gold medal in the men’s 500-meter sprint, announced he will be donating his $25,000 Olympic bonus to Right to Play, an organization started by Cheek’s inspiration and five-time Olympic medalist speedskater Johann Olav Koss. The organization “uses sport and play as a tool for the development of children and youth in the most disadvantaged areas of the world.”
Meanwhile, over at the Palavela Arena, the figure skaters are showing the world that grace and strength are not incompatible. Favorites Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin overcame confidence issues and skated their way to gold after Totimiana suffered a devastating injury in 2004, when Marinin dropped her from a lift. But it was Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China who elicited cheers and tears from the audience at the rink and at home. Attempting a throw quad salchow, Zhang Dan came crashing to the ice, badly injuring her left knee. After skating about for a few minutes and getting the all-clear from their trainer, the pair went on to skate a passionate performance and garnered a hard-earned silver medal.
With these heartfelt and heartwrenching performances in mind, we’re wondering what your favorite inspirational Olympic moments have been so far in this Olympiad. Use the comments link to let us know.