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The Olympic Spirit

The Way I See It

July 29, 2012
By John Sheda , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

This week marks the beginning of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Every time the Olympics takes place, we hear of tremendous feats of courage, encouragement and the overcoming of all odds. This year will prove to be no different. It will be a time of great victories and agonizing defeats. Individual stories will be heralded throughout the television coverage and for the most part, we, as viewers will watch in awe and perhaps even feel a little inspired. With that thought in mind, here are three amazing Olympic athletes, two you can keep an eye on in the next couple of weeks and one who came up a bit short of being a three-time medal winner.

Fencer Mariel Zagunis for some odd reason fell in love with the sport of Fencing. She became an Oregon State Champion and in 2004, she attempted to make it to the Olympics but fell just short of making the U.S team. Mariel was devastated as she once wrote in her journal, "I was born for this and I will become the best in the world." Now she thought to herself, "I tried my best, but I'm just not good enough." Family, friends and an unyielding faith in God though, enabled her to continue entering fencing competitions. And with each match, she started claiming victory after victory but still she knew her dream of the Olympics was out of the question.....or was it? After returning home from several competitions, she received a call from the Olympic Coach, explaining that someone had dropped out and she was on the team if she an alternate. Well that was all she needed. She competed and won the gold medal in '04 and then again in '08. This year, Mariel Zagunis will be trying for an unprecedented third gold medal in London. Her motto is "Never stop pursuing your dream."

Bryan Clay is a young man with a troubled history. Parents divorced when he was only seven and he found in gangs the father figure he so desperately needed. He turned to violence and drugs until a school counselor took Bryan under his wing. He introduced him to the track field and asked him to run. And run he did, and jump and throw the discus and high jump until it was realized that this young man might have what it takes to be a decathlon champion. But it wasn't really until a girl friend told him that he needed to trade in his gang affiliation to God affiliation that he really exercised his faith. He got rid of his "mega-attitude" and turned all that pent-up energy into champion status. He won the silver medal in 2004, the gold medal in '08 and was a "shoe-in" for this year's Olympics. However in the trials, he surprisingly missed the timing in the 110 hurdles and knocked the 9th hurdle to the ground, and with it his chances for a third medal ended. He was discouraged to say the least, but several years earlier, he made this vow to himself...."My faith comes first, then my family and after that my track." With a sturdy foundation like that, Bryan is on solid ground.

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Finally a former New York Runway model, Dotsie Bausch, will be biking for a gold medal this year in London. 20 years ago, she was almost dead. The glitz and glamour of modeling took its toll on Dotsie. To stay thin and active, she turned to diet pills and other prescription drugs. When this wasn't enough to help her keep her weight down, she then became bulimic and anorexic until she was completely emaciated. On her 5'9" frame she hovered right around a hundred pounds and her hair falling out in clumps. She pondered suicide as her only solution. She was afraid to face any of her family. With the little strength she had left in her, she mustered the courage to enter into a drug rehabilitation program. And with that, she found great solace in the Bible. As she was recovering and ready to once again face her family, she was introduced to the world of recreational biking. She loved it. And one day she got into a group of competitive bikers and not only kept up with their regimen that day, she actually out-biked them. In 2000, she became the California State Champion and in 2002, she became a member of the National Team. And this year, she bikes for the very first time in the Olympics and yes, she is counting on that gold medal.

These are just three of many great life stories. Enjoy the Olympics and go USA!!

That's the way I see it...let me know how you see it at jsheda or call me at 319-334-4117.



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