Thought for the Day

Thursday, September 2, 2004

3000 euros

I know we were all just about done discussing this, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. So here are some of my thoughts. Forgive me for rambling.

3000 euros.
How do you put a value on training to be one of the best in the world at one of the most grueling sports in the world?
How do you put a price on years of running, early mornings, late nights, through the heat, through the cold, dozens of long, slow miles some days, dozens of intervals of near top speed around and around a track on others.
We cannot hope for the bastard in a skirt and a beret with matching stockings to understand the magnitude of his crime. It is tempting to say that for several months we should yank him from bed every Sunday morning at 4 am and pull him down empty streets, over rocky trails, up and down hills for four hours. We could drag him around a track at under 4:30 per mile for up to 20 miles, giving him a brief rest between each mile, and repeat this every Wednesday for several months.
We could do things like this, but he still would have no concept of what it would take for him to put himself through it, to drive himself through it with his own will.
Even those of us who have run a marathon can only imagine what it must have been like for Vanderlei de Lima to be running the race of his life, at the front of a field of some of the world's best athletes who have all worked very hard, for months and years, to try to beat him on that one day. His body, mind, and soul were committed to one goal. Then he was violently, senselessly, heartlessly attacked, and he was chosen for attack for the very fact that he was in the lead.

I've heard people analyze the look on de Lima's face, his stride, every nuance before and after the attack, to try to determine whether he could have won.
We always talk about how much of this physical competition is mental, and de Lima was physically assaulted, emotionally disrupted, and mentally distracted at a critical point in the race.
No one knows how the race would have ended.
No one should dare to say that he would not have won.

What value does the world place on the Olympics? Millions are thrown about for media contracts, endorsements, rebuilding ancient arenas, building modern ones. But that's all only money.
When we try to put it in terms of money, we cannot place a high enough value on the Olympic spirit.
3000 euros?
Something is out of balance.

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