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.