Edmonton is hosting the I.A.A.F. Track and Field World Championships and the athletes competing here are some of the best in the world. These men and women have spent years training for a few moments of glory. This is a huge event.
I took a drive this afternoon and saw some men and women compete in track and field events and was truly amazed at the heart and determination these people put into their chosen events.
I wasn’t at the I.A.A.F. Track and Field Championships this afternoon but rather, took a drive in the other direction and went to a small town near here called Barrhead which is hosting the 2001 Special Olympics Provincial Games. For some, this is the event of a lifetime.
One of the guys I have coached all year ran against the national champion in the 800 metre open. There was no contest as our guy won by 100 metres in a time of 2:00. The American record for the 800 metre is 1:42. Tomorrow he will be competing in the 1500 metre open and in practice he has run as fast as 3:45, the American record is 3:29. By checking the record book I just realized how fast this guy is and I think he can run faster.
But here’s the real story…
Mike (not his real name) joined our team this year and has been an inspiration to everyone that meets him. He is never without a smile or a positive word and is a competitor in the truest sense of the word.
He is a small man, if his body wasn’t afflicted with cerebral palsy his head might come to my shoulder. He has trouble enough standing and walking so you can imagine people’s surprise when they saw he was entered in the 200m. Seeing how hard he worked and seeing how determined he has been all year I wasn’t surprised at all. For what he lacks in strength of body he makes up for with strength of spirit, heart, and willpower.
He was given elbow and knee pads in case he fell. I lost track of how many time he had fallen in practice but today he didn’t need the safety gear, he faltered a few times but did not fall. He finished dead last. As he crossed the finish line he was surrounded by his team-mates and congratulated by his opponents. It was a triumph of the highest order and a medal winning performance regardless of where he finished.
It brought a tear to my eye.
He’s my hero.