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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2 thoughts on “Examples of Excellence

  1. malcolmshabazz on said:

    Can NBC at least attempt to hide their racism? I never underestimate the power of the media to paint an image. Two things were foul about NBC’s coverage of that beautiful young sister’s historic gold medal performance. First was Bob Costa inferring that her accomplishment of being the first African American to win the All Around Gold Medal was just noteworthy because the actual barriers have been down for a while. His statement that an invisible barrier based on how one sees themself is preposterous in this situation. Gabby seemed to me like an extremely confident athlete who expected to compete for the win. When asked if she thought her performance was gold medal worthy she confidently stated it was, but, I ask what type of question is that? It infers that there was doubt that she really deserved the win. Early, I heard from NBC’s commentators that Gabby was talented enough to win but she may be too, wait for the key Black Athlete Buzz Word, “EMOTIONAL” to seize the moment and compete at her potential. What she accomplished was historic for any American but in the legacy of our greatest athletic explorers in predominately white sports (William Sisters, Arthur Ashe, Tiger Woods, Jim Brown for Lacrosse etc.) Shame on NBC for their attempt to tarnish this accomplishment and down play its significance. Second, the first commercial NBC showed after her interview was a *$)@ monkey with Olympic dreams of victory on the parallel rings (Animal Practice Commercial). Gabby ended her interview stressing the fact that hard work creates champions and these idiots at NBC start a commercial stressing the monkey’s hard work lead to this moment of victory. Either this is extremely poor taste or blatant negative imagery. Maybe I’m extra sensitive. If no producer at NBC saw a problem with this imagery we need some further action. Lastly, if I hear any black person talk about Gabby’s hair and not her performance I may have the propensity to smack the ish out of them. Look in the mirror and learn to love your amazing self and celebrate our outstanding achievements. In the wisdom of a 16yr old Olympic Champion, Gabby stated that she gave the glory to God who in turn blessed her……. Wow

  2. grayd0307 on said:

    Mr. Shabazz,
    I see your points with the Bob Costas comments. I, too was confused about his second statement. I also agree that the Animal Practice commercial was ill-timed, and subtly racist, due to the way African Americans have been depicted in the past.
    It was wrong for them to televise it right after Gabby’s win, & interview. It is really unfortunate that Michael Eric Dyson had to put in check, some extremely shallow and STUPID tweeters who could only mention little Gabby’s hair, & how she supposedly needed to get it “done”. Mr. Dyson got these very shallow people schooled on national/world television though; thanks & kudos to him. Gabby has an incredible talent, grit, determination, & dedication to her craft. Let me be one of the first to post that I noticed that her hair, (which, by the way was rather neat) did not stop, hinder, or get in the way of her earning & claiming the gold medal in the Olympic All-Around competition, or the team finals, the other night. It’s too bad that IGNORANT, SHALLOW people can’t see anything beyond the superficial. The girl is 16 years old, if you don’t have anything positive to say about her or her accomplishments, keep your damn mouths shut. Leave her alone!

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