In men`s gymnastics we saw Paul Hamm stumble on his landing from the vault and fall all the way to 12th place. Rather than brooding and hanging his head, he knew he must give two performances of a lifetime to simply get into medal contention. He did and, as he saw others falter he found himself on the Gold Medal platform. If anything teaches us to NEVER GIVE UP, that scenario should.
In swimming Michael Phelps was favored for the Gold in many events, but he chose to enter an event that offered some very stiff competition in Ian Thorpe. This would put his string of Golds at threat but he wanted to test himself FACING THE BEST COMPETITION. Thorpe may have won the race, but Phelps is also a winner for his competitive spirit.
In the Marathon there was a outlandish attack on Vanderlei De Lima as he was in first place during the final stages of the race. He dropped from first to third, but entered the stadium with the demeanor of a champion, rather than allowing the unfortunate turn of events to put a damper on his wonderful accomplisment of going from 75th in the previous Olympics to the Bronze medal, because IT IS THE EFFORT - NOT THE RESULT. De Lima was also given a special medal at closing ceremonies in recognition of his Olympic spirit.
In wrestling heavyweight Rulon Garner pulled off one of the most stunning upsets in the 2000 Olympic games defeating Aleksandr Karelin, who had never lost a match in international competition, winning nine World Championships and the gold in the last three Olympics. Gardner showed that, REGARDLESS OF THE OPPONENT - YOU ALWAYS HAVE A CHANCE. In 2002 he got lost on a snowmobile and spent a night in the Wyoming mountains which left him frostbitten and hours from death. Gardner emerged from the ordeal with one fewer toe, two others deformed. He had a very disappointing loss in the semifinals and came back to win the Bronze. Once agin - NEVER GIVE UP. And ultimately, Rulon walked to the center of the ring, took off his shoes, and left them in the circle, as he walked off for the final time - the ultimate example of LEAVING IT ALL ON THE FLOOR.
This brings us to our beloved sport of basketball.The USA went into the Olympics under the assumption that the group of players with the best athletes will win the gold. Notice that I did not say TEAM. While deep down these players certainly wanted to win, and by no means are inherently selfish, but they have been trained to play a style of game that is not conducive to TEAM basketball. Too many of the players had similiar type games that did not complement each other. Thus they had no "synergy". They were only as good as those 5 individual players on the floor. The American style of play in the elite player is one of attacking the basket via the dribble and using ones athleticism to dominate an opponent. Internationally, teams move on offense without the ball and are much more difficult to guard as a team. A premium is put on BALL MOVEMENT VIA THE PASS and to AVOID UNECESSARY DRIBBLING. The game is much more pleasing to the purists eye and is a beauty to watch. It was clear that the USA`s opponents BELIEVED THEY COULD WIN. Even when the USA won, the opponent generally looked better in their losing effort.
The teams that were successful were the teams that would PLAY HARD - PLAY SMART - and PLAY TOGETHER. Finally, watching teams like Argentina PLAY WITH SHEER JOY AND ENTHUSIASM renews the importance of the reasons we all play sports. HAVE FUN
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