Olympic Moments Lessons in Character
Olympic Oath • The Olympic Oath is a solemn promise made by one athlete-as a representative of each participating Olympic competitor; and by one judge- as a representative for each referee and official, at the opening ceremonies of each Olympic Games. The athlete and judge are both from the host nation. Each holds a corner of the Olympic flag while reciting the Oath. • Athlete Oath: “In the name of all competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory and honor of our teams.” • Judge’s Oath: “ In the name of all the judges and officials, I promise that we shall officiate these Olympic Games with complete impartiality, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them in the true spirit of sportsmanship.”
Olympic Rings The Olympic Rings represent the five inhabited continents of the world, united by Olympic Sportsmanship.
SAVING LIVESSeoul 1988 – Lawrence Lemieux – Letter of CongratulationsCanadian sailor Lawrence Lemieux was willing to sacrifice his own medal chances in Seoul to save the lives of fellow competitors. While competing in the fifth of his seven races in the Finn class, Lemieux was sitting in second place when he veered off course after seeing Singaporean sailors Joseph Chan and Shaw Her Siew from the 470 class in the water next to their capsized boat and in danger of being carried out to sea. Lemieux had to go downwind to first pull Chan onto his boat while taking on water and then went to Siew who was clinging to the boat. Lemieux waited for assistance to arrive before returning to his race and finishing well behind the leaders. Afterwards, Lemieux was credited with a second place finish in that race en route to finishing 11th overall. He would also be awarded a Pierre de Coubertin medal by then-IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch who told him: “By your sportsmanship, self-sacrifice and courage you embody all that is right with the Olympic ideal.”
WIND IN THEIR SAILSBeijing 2008 – PavleKostov, PetarCupac, Ivan Bulaja – Pierre de Coubertin World TrophyCroatian sailors PavleKostov and PetarCupac may have finished 17th in the 49er class in Beijing, but their boat was a huge part of the gold medal. Kostov and Cupac had not qualified for the medal race featuring the top 10 teams. Along with their coach Ivan Bulaja they were in the Olympic Village when they heard of the disaster that had struck the Danish team, who were leading the standings heading into the final race. Just 15 minutes before the start, the Danish mast broke. After a call from the Danes, Kostov, Cupac and Bulaja raced to the marina where they quickly prepared the boat and lent it to Jonas Warrer and Martin Kirketerp who were able to start the race just four minutes after the other finalists and barely before the deadline to start. The Danes finished seventh in the medal race, but that was enough to secure them the gold medal.
RIVAL GESTURE Sapporo 1972- Dieter Speer – Diploma of Honour The Soviet Union was a heavy favourite to defend its Olympic gold medal in the men’s biathlon 4×7.5km relay in Sapporo. The lead-off man was Alexander Tikhonov, who had been part of the gold medal-winning squad four years earlier. But during his leg, Tikhonovmis-stepped and broke a ski. Tikhonov forced himself to keep going on one ski until Dieter Speer, a member of the East German team that was considered a top rival to the Soviets, gave Tikhonov one of his reserve skis. It did not fit Tikhonov perfectly, but with two skis back on his feet he was able to keep pace with the lead group. The Soviets would go on to win gold while Speer and the East Germans ended up with the bronze.
DIGNIFIED GLORYLos Angeles 1984 – Mohamed Ali Rashwan – Pierre de Coubertin World TrophyJapan’s Yasuhiro Yamashita was seen as a sure bet for judo gold in Los Angeles, having won the last three world titles in the +95kg weight class as well as the open class in 1981. He won his first Olympic match in just 27 seconds, but in his second match he tore a muscle in his right calf and was clearly limping as he left the mat after his victory. His next opponent, France’s Laurent Del Colombo attacked the injury, but Yamashita was able to counter and got the win to advance to the final. In that final he faced Egyptian Mohamed Ali Rashwan and despite limping worse than ever was victorious in just over one minute. At the victory ceremony, Rashwan the silver medallist had to help Yamashita step onto the top of the podium because his leg was so sore. Afterwards Rashwan told reporters that he chose not to attack Yamashita’s injured right leg because it was against his principles and he would not want to win in that way.
ULTIMATE COOLAthens 2004 – Alexei Nemov– Pierre de Coubertin World TrophyArtistic gymnastics had a number of controversies at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens that would eventually lead to an overhaul of the judging system. During the event final for the men’s horizontal bar, the scores did not seem to match the routines that were performed, especially in the eyes of the spectators in attendance. Following the performance of fan favourite and 12-time Olympic medallist Alexei Nemov, the crowd booed, jeered and whistled. There was a 15-minute delay due to the disturbance, during which Nemov’s score was revised but it did not affect his placement which continued to rile the crowd. American Paul Hamm, who had won the all-around title earlier in the Games, was next to compete. To allow Hamm to continue in peace, Nemov stepped onto the competition platform and both thanked the crowd for their support while pleading for them to be quiet. Nemov ended up in fifth place.
Sportsmanship and Character • “The essential elements of character-building and ethics in life are embodied in the concept of sportsmanship and six core principles: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and good citizenship. The highest potential is achieved when a person reflects these Six Pillars of Character.”