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Archive for July 31st, 2012

The Olympics, Fencing 2012, and Loss

July 31st, 2012 | Category: Life,Opinions

I definitely wouldn’t call myself a sports “fan.” I can talk sports, I know who won what championship every year, I know the rules of the games, but I don’t regularly watch any of said games. I’d probably call myself a sports “follower,” I know what’s what. However, every two years, I watch sports for two weeks solid. The Summer Olympics, the Winter Olympics, I’m down. I’m there for swimming in the Summer, downhill skiing in the Winter. I even watch, maybe especially watch, the obscure sports, like table-tennis, curling, fencing.

I think what I find so compelling about the Olympics is the intensity, the real gravity of what it is to win or lose. Most of these athletes don’t have major sponsorships, no million dollar shoe deals. Most Olympic athletes are simply totally dedicated to being the best at what they do, the world’s best ski-jumper, best skeet-shooter, best fencer. They dedicate everything to their craft, everything to one moment to prove that they really are the top of their game. Many train four years for a jump or a swim that’s over in under one minute. If that one minute goes badly, it’s another four years of sweat and bruises if they want to try again. People who win look over the noon, people who lose look crushed, completely broken.

I’ve mentioned fencing a few times because of a match I watched yesterday. A Lam Shin, from Korea, disputed whether or not her opponent’s final blow counted because of an inaccuracy in the match’s time-keeping. In short, she thought the clock should have run out before her opponent stabbed her in the face (guard). So, her coach filed a formal complaint, and she sat. Her opponent left, A Lam Shin sat, and paced, and wept. She did this for almost an hour total, until officials had to physically, gingerly, lead her away. Leaving means acknowledging the judges’ decision, which she definitely did not. She fought with everything she had because she couldn’t simply allow four years of work and sacrifice to come to nothing because a clock got its math wrong.

The judges ultimately sided with the busted clock, A Lam Shin has another four years of training ahead of her, if she’s able to make the investment again. She lost, it hurt. This is why to a non-sports fan the Olympics are so completely compelling.

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