The 2012 Summer Olympics of London have officially closed. The final medal count saw the United States as the only country with triple digits at 104 medals overall. There were plenty of great moments over the 16 days of the games. My favorite revolved around South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius.
The story of the double amputee is perhaps the most unique in Olympic history, not just 2012. Pistorius was banned in 2008 because it was assumed the blades that served as calves and feet gave the runner an unfair advantage over his competitors. In a dramatic reversal, Pistorius was allowed to run four years later.
The South African made it as far as the 400-meter semifinals before finishing last with a time of 46.54 seconds. After the race, Kirani James of Grenada exchanged bibs with the first amputee amputee sprinter to compete in an Olympics.
The moment of Pistorius’ swan song wasn’t just about running. It was about the true spirit of the Olympic moment. There are plenty of horrible stories of racist Twitter posts, banishments for drugs and Olympians cheating to win.
Yet the life of Pistorius is one of overcoming obstacles to achieve his ultimate dream. His goal was to make the semifinals, which he did. Not bad for someone who had his fibulas amputated at 11 months old. The 25-year-old said he was “humbled” by all the support he had in these Olympics.
In my mind, supporting someone’s dream after overcoming adversity is a no-brainer. Pistorius was truly the “feel good” moment of these Olympics, especially when it had nothing to do with winning a gold medal or becoming the greatest ever in Olympic history.
Sometimes the grit, determination and passion of the human spirit is shown by how humble someone is in defeat as opposed to joy an athlete shows in winning. That is why a South African sprinter–not the Dream Team, not super-swimmer Michael Phelps and not the women’s gymnastic team–is the most inspirational person of 2012.
No amount of gold, silver or bronze can take away from the accomplishments of the Blade Runner. Athletically, emotionally and administratively, he had to wade through much more in his life to get where he is today than someone who had the support of his or her fellows from Day One. The most difficult thing Pistorius had to push through was his own detractors and doubters.
The story of one South African boy who dreamed to be in the Olympics is the ultimate story. Pistorius had to erase his fears and doubts to replace them with faith and hope. That is how dreams come true.