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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Two Inspirational Olympians and How They Overcame Hardships

After a spectacular closing ceremony, the London Olympics came to an end last week. We all have different favorite memories about the Games. Here are two more athletes that have inspired me in the Games, in addition to the three I talked about last time. 
4) The Blade Runner – Oscar Pistorius
Born with congenital absence of fibula in both legs, Pistorius had his legs amputated at 11 months old. But that hasn’t stopped him from running or playing sports. In prosthetic legs, Pistorius qualified for the London Olympics and made it to the semi-finals in the 400m race.

What Pistorius has done went beyond athletics. In a way, Pistorius is an innovator. He’s redefined what is possible. Nobody ever imagined a double amputee competing with able-bodied athletes in the same race in the same Olympic stadium.

I can’t imagine what Pistorius went through to become the inspirational figure hes today. When he played sports in school as a kid, some of his classmates probably mocked him and thought of him as a weirdo. Even after he became a professional runner, most people still believed its unrealistic for him to aim to compete in the Olympics. But he made it against all odds, as we now know.

Pistorius has challenged our assumptions and made the impossible possible, showing us that we should never underestimate our abilities or willpower. Plus, he often interacts with the community to inspire and encourage different people, as shown in this photo where he ran together with a little girl.

In many ways, Pistorius reminds me of Nick Vujijic, because both of them show the world that the disabled can live a wonderful life too. Without limbs, Vujijic still has a colorful life and he’s become a motivational speaker who has inspired people around the world.

5) Chinas Track and Field Icon Liu Xiang

Liu is the first man in China to win an Olympic gold medal in a track and field event. Set to defend his title in 2008 in front of the home crowd, Liu was forced to withdraw from the competition due to a foot injury.

Determined to overcome his foot injury, Liu kept training and significantly improved his form in the past year. He won silver in the world championship in 2011, and matched the world record earlier in 2012, albeit with wind assistance.
Unfortunately, Liu injured himself again in the London Games, after failing to leap over the first hurdle cleanly in the first round. But this time he handled the disappointment much more maturely than four years ago. He kicked the wall in anguish back then, while this time he waved to the audience and sportingly greeted the other runners in the same heat. He’s grown a lot in the past four years.

The lesson is we must live with courage and determination to pursue our passion. Uncertainty is always a part of life. Even if we do our best and give our full dedication, we may not succeed in the end. But we can’t let stress and fear cripple us. What matters is we grow and learn along the way, and meet great people and have fun in the journey. Even if we cant make it in the end, we know weve given it all and we have no regrets.

Elite athletes are similar to elite businessmen, in the sense that they all work very hard and sacrifice a lot in order to reach the top of the profession. It’s not easy to be one and we can learn a great deal from both world-class athletes and Fortune 100 CEOs.
Questions: What is your favorite moment in the London Olympics?

(Entry 2 of 3 in the Lessons from the 2012 Olympics series) 

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