July 29, 2012

this american life

With the hopes of his home nation on their favorite son's shoulders, the world reigning champion cyclist Mark Cavendish came in 28th, 40 seconds behind the winner of the Olympic men's road race. Wah?

These are the stories I love. Meet one of my favorite cyclists, the underdog, 38yr old Alexander Vinokourov of Kazakhstan, in the final race of his career, who went out in a breakaway with the 25yrd old Colombian rider, Rigoberto Uran. With 500 meters left, after 155 miles, they still retained an unexpected 40 second lead over the peloton. Vino caught Uran looking behind to see how close the peloton was. In that second, the wiley wise Vino took off. Before Uran could turn around and recover, it was over.

Meet the gray-haired Jordan Jovtchev, 39yr old receiving a standing ovation competing in his 6th Olympics in men's gymnastics, a playground for teen and 20-somethings. Wah? He's a former champion, head of the Bulgarian delegation, who's invested over $6 million of his own money to revitalize and help Bulgaria rebuild it's program, competing on the rings. There's no one else to compete yet, so with about 30min of practice 3x a week, he represents his country, showing his pupils what courage and pride look like.

Meet 33yr old Kimberly Rhodes, the first American to win an individual medal in 5 straight Olympics tying a world record and setting the Olympic mark with 99 points winning the Gold Medal in Skeet shooting. 99 points means she missed once in 100 shots. Once.
Meet 16yr old Ariel Hsing, ranked 113 in the world, who triumphed in two table tennis rounds over competitors ranked 40-50 places above her, who ran in the #2 seed in the world today, who didn't blink as she lost 4-2, while the man she calls Uncle Bill (Bill Gates) stood and applauded.

This is one of the reasons I'm a fan of the program, This American Life. Instead of the rapes, war, politics, murders and atrocities that dot our daily news, the real stories, the best stories, are of human beings with grit and determination, going about the beauty and goals of their lives. In the Olympics, these stories of life come into the foreground. I wish they always did.


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