Monday, February 13, 2006

A Real Winner

Michelle Kwan showed what the Olympic spirit is all about with her fairly expedient withdrawl from the 2006 Winter Games due to injury - and in a time frame where the alternate, Emily Hughes, could prepare herself for a good run in 10 days time. Nine-time national champion Kwan has been recovering from injury and was not able to compete in the national trials for the Olympic team but was nevertheless selected by the national committee to compete primarily due to her professionalism and to hopefully see her through to the long-elusive gold medal (she got silver in Nagano '98 and bronze in Salt Lake City ' 02).

After participating in opening day ceremonies Friday night she hit the practice ice the next morning only to injure her groin. Almost immediately she knew her chances to compete at full strength were dashed even though the preliminaries were ten days away. That night she withdrew herself from the games so alternate Hughes could get on board. In early Sunday morning interviews she was asked about her quest for the gold and how could she give it up - and she responded "well you just have to have a love for the sport - and I respect the Olympics too much not to go at full strength".

Of course the press had sort of a field day with this. "Shake up at the Olympics" blared one local news team this morning! NBC's Bob Costas and others debated her place in ice skating histroy (because at 25 that is pretty much it) and although everyone wanted to give her kudos "she didn't win Olympic Gold". Exactly WHEN did this become the barometer for anything! What she did this weekend will be remembered more than any Olympic Gold. She didn't even flinch in taking herself out on the same day she got injured - didn't wait to dwell about it ad nauseum and create any drama - she just did it.

And that's the sign of a true champion.


wordgirl said...

The way I heard it was that her injuries prevented her from making the team the first time around. She petitioned for a spot later on the grounds that she was "all better" and her admittance to the team was done so under "special circumstances".
Sure, I think it's great that she pulled out, but is 10 days enough time for someone else to have the fullest shot at gold...the way Kwan was given? Did her place on the team knock out someone else who was more worthy then her? Just asking.

Rock said...

If you're the alternate and you know Kwan may be still not 100% I would be practicing. Kwan herself said she did that one year. The qualifiers were just a couple of weeks ago. That's why at the first sign of trouble she immediately withdrew to allow Hughes the maximum amount of time.

As was posted - she did not make nationals because she was not healthy enough to compete at the time but they voted her on the team anyway after a special private training session where she looked okay (Jan 26th) - which was mildly surprising but I don't beleive wholly unprecedented. I mean its ice skating.

So Hughes, who would be the person you are so worried about, is going to skate anyway.

DebbieDoesLife said...

I am suspicious that they allowed Kwan on the team to raise ratings (not just t.v. but ticket sales etc) for the Olympics. She is a media darling who made the team without really having to try out (it was a closed try out for her - maybe they just sat around and did shots).

Jeez, my word verification thing is like 20 letters long....

Rock said...

I'm telling ya - all of you Texans in the middle of the state are becoming conspiracy theorists! Sheesh.

Brooke said...

How did I miss this before? I agree wholeheartedly. I have followed Michelle for a long, long time and she has never shown anything but true class.

She honestly wanted to compete and it just didn't work out. Seeing her practice session, and the ensuing attempt to hold back the tears told me this was no show. It mattered to her.