It hasn’t been a good weekend if you are a household name with the surname Armstrong. On Friday, Lance Armstrong officially threw in the towel in his fight to maintain the seven Tour de France titles he had won by effectively pleading guilty to using drugs. He thus gained the status of villain or fallen hero. Then yesterday, Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon died in hospital.
Our reactions to the two Armstrongs underlines how ambiguous we are in conferring hero status to people or to organizations. Continue reading
A disappointing silver medal
This week an American athlete twittered that getting coming second just meant that you were the best of the losers. It is easy to understand his disappointment. Most silver medalists will have begun their completion thinking that they had a realistic chance of walking away with gold. Their emotions will have no doubt been mixed as they stood listening to the national anthem of another nation.
From Victoria Komova of Russia (Gymnastics) to India’s Vijay Kumar (Shooting) to Ryosuke Irie of Japan (Swimming), there was a certain air of sadness as they received their silver reward for all those years of work. Even Michael Phelps had a glum look after he received his silver medal in Men’s 200m Butterfly (despite being the Olympic’s most successful competitor). The Australian press is currently lamenting the poor performance of the nation despite having won 12 silver medals (but only two gold).
The Olympics is the fabulous event because each nation can find its own heros. Last night in the 400m women’s final Camille Muffat became one of France’s new heroines by taking gold. She narrowly defeated Allison Schmitt of the USA.
Britain’s Rebecca Adlington took the bronze medal in the same race adding to her two golds in the Beijing Olympics. Last November, I posted an article about the inspiration that I had found from sources such as my own students, Howard Schultz the CEO of Starbucks and the young British swimmer.
Time to reflect once more on those thoughts.