Olympics Moments

The first two Olympic Moments I remember were Bob Beamon’s long jump at the Mexico City Olympics and Lasse Viren’s 10K run at the Munich Olympics. Beamon excelled so far beyond the world record (8.90 M) that it seemed unbelievable, as though, for a moment, he had defied gravity. It would take 23 years before his record was matched. Viren had fallen earlier in the race and lost touch with the lead group. He quickly picked himself up, rejoined the group at the front led by Bedford and went ahead to win the race with a sensational time. His win seemed to defy the rules of plausibility.

The Beijing Olympic Moment was the 4X100 relay with Jason Lezak, who came from behind the French, Alain Bernad, the World and Olympic champion to win the race for the American team and give Michael Phelps that Gold as one of his eight.

What makes an Olympic moment? Why was Viren’s 10K a source of inspiration for so many? What is it about Lezak’s finish of the 4X100 freestyle, and about Phelps’ finish of the Men’s 100M Butterfly and his Eight Gold medals in Beijing that will inspire youngsters for generations?

Olympic moments are about much more than victory. More than a peak performance. Olympic Moments redefine our perception of reality and of what is possible. They instruct us about the human capacity to transcend limitations. To defy the rules. To even defy the laws of gravity.

Why are these moments formative into the collective human story? We love the drama. We love heroes. But there is something else. Olympic Moments of physical and athletic greatness let us intuit that which is beyond – the greater, transcended nature of life. They offer us a glimpse into a ‘perfect’ and ‘supreme’ realm. They confirm a latent knowing that beyond our physicality there is something unbeatable, eternal. Olympic Moments show us that at the edge of the human capacity, where the improbable and the impossible are suspended for a short moment, life can be touched by the miraculous. That on a special occasion, with hard work, training, sweat and tears you may be helped by something greater. That you may also be sustained and delivered beyond, to reach the unattainable and unimaginable, and touch the immortal essence of life.

Once you find this moment in the Olympics, you may find it again nearby, in simple things. Perhaps even inside you.
© Aviv Shahar

0 thoughts on “Olympics Moments

  1. This is well written and is thought provoking but I have some disagreement with your premise. When a person looks for Olympic moments in his or her life it can be numbing or even misleading on their senses. Life (luckily) is not a racetrack or the Water Cube. Therefore, nothing in the life of the person can be like those moments in the spotlight. Magic is found in everyday situations and events, and it is quiet, subtle and fine – the complete opposite of an Olympic moment that is accompanied by trumpets, applause, and horns blowing in the town square… If a person is looking for these moments, they can miss twice – once because they can’t find anything similar in their lives, and secondly because if they seek the approval and applause of others they are likely to let meaningful moments and special experiences slip away. Ordinary people’s moments never look like Olympic ones … but I still like the writing!

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