Examples of Excellence

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  • The 2012 London Olympics are well underway and if you have not had or taken the time to watch any of the hours of coverage being broadcast by all of NBC’s platforms, you have missed a lot. But if you missed the opening ceremony, in my opinion you didn’t miss an event with the abstractly choreographed splendor of the Beijing Olympics. As someone born in the UK, I appreciated the world being introduced to British culture, but was most surprised that the main characters in English film producer Danny Boyle’s production were of African decent.

    The U.S. Olympic team also has some brothers and sisters in sports that traditionally don’t see us going for the gold that I think, win or lose, you have to check out both their skill and their stories.

    Cullen Jones gained major attention as part of the gold medal winning 4×100 meter freestyle relay in Beijing. That is swimming and not track for those of you that are familiar with all the event terminology. Jones, who almost drowned when he was 5 years old committed to overcoming his fear of the water. Well, the world would agree he has.

    Gabby Douglas has been stealing the hearts of America and the world as she has performed with excellence, gaining one of the two U.S. spots to compete for the Olympic All Around in Gymnastics. The 16-year-old hopes to be the first black woman to win a Gymnastics medal since Dominique Dawes won bronze in 1996.

    Daryl Homer and Nzingha Prescod are the two African-American U.S. Fencing team's secret weapons at this year's Olympic games. 19-year-old Nzigngha travels the country engaging African-American young people with the sport she loves. Daryl decided he would become a fencer at 10 years old after seeing a picture of the sport in the dictionary.

    And finally, there is a brother I really want you to check out. But this Haitian-American competing for Haiti is inspirational not just because he is going for the gold in the triple jump. But Samyr Laine, the lawyer, the Harvard, Georgetown and University of Texas grad represents excellence on and off the track. He said, “My path to becoming a world class athlete is far from ordinary. While in law school at Georgetown, my teachers had no idea I would travel to France, Qatar or Brazil for competitions on the weekend, yet make sure that my work was always on point. In doing so, I was able to pursue excellence in the classroom and on the track without letting one affect the other."

    This takes nothing from the brothers and sisters in the games that play neither basketball or run track, nor the non-black athletes at the Games. All are champions who should be celebrated. These five athletes illustrate that we can take the road less traveled and win. Let's watch them, cheer for them, but also use them as an example in our own lives to do what others won't to win the Gold. I believe we all can.
     

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