Friday, February 17, 2006


The Winter Games of the 20th Olympiad continue on, full of surprises, disappointments and most assuredly, drama. The 2250 athletes from 80 countries competing in 84 different winter events came to Torino, Italy with a singular mantra: Citius, Altius, Fortius.

It is the Olympic motto, which translated from Latin means "Faster, Higher, Stronger." The motto was proposed by Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the Modern Olympic Games, on the creation of the International Olympic Committee in 1894. De Coubertin borrowed it from his friend Henri Didon, a Dominican priest who, amongst other things, was an athletics enthusiast. Folklore has it that the phrase had been engraved on the main entrance to the Ancient Olympic Games.

If you've been watching any coverage of the 2006 Winter Games then you are bombarded with names and faces of those Olympians favored for medals in all events. The Bode Millers and the Sean Whites are talk of the Olympics, as it should be. But what of all the remaining 2000 (out of 2250) athletes who will never make the medal stand, never mentioned on a national network and will only go home with memories of one of the greatest experiences of their life?

It's my belief that this motto is meant especially for these 2000 athletes and all the athletes that attempted to qualify for a place on each country's Olympic team. In fact, it may as well be the mantra for any of us that attempt any physical activity. Notice the motto does not say "Faster than, Higher than, Stronger than" and it does not say "Fastest, Highest, Strongest." It simply states "Faster, Higher, Stronger."

A couple years ago I found myself entertaining the idea of participating in a triathlon. The only thing that held me back from participating was the mindset that I had to be in my best physical condition before I could even enter an event. It wasn't until I spoke with an older gentleman (age 59) who told me, "I usually come in at the very end of the race every time, but the most important thing is that I feel stronger or finish just a little bit faster than my last race." And sure enough, as I crossed the finish line of my first triathlon, there was a huge crowd (composed of spectators and even those triathletes that came in ahead of me) cheering me across the line... just because I was finishing. And since that moment, I have logged my cycling miles, tracked my running miles and journaled my swimming strokes - with a lot less attention on those around me.

As my father would say, "There will always be someone better and worse than you. And on any given day, you could be the best or the worse one in the race. The important thing is if you're a better you than you were yesterday." And since that first triathlon, I've kept this focus in mind. And it's made all the difference. Just keep looking forward and focus my efforts on being just a little bit faster, higher and stronger.

So here's to you in all your endeavors, my friend, that your efforts are faster, higher and stronger than they were yesterday. In the spirit of all Olympic efforts (either at home or on the playing field), that's all that matters... strive Faster, seek Higher, and forge Stronger. When the accolades and applause are silenced, that's all that matters.


And just in case you are bitten by the Olympics bug, here are a few bits of Olympic trivia for you as well:

What is the meaning of the Olympic Rings?

On the Olympic flag, the rings appear on a white background. This flag translates the idea of the universality of the Olympic Movement. At least one of the colours of the rings, including the white background, can be found on the flag of every nation in the world. But watch out! It is wrong, therefore, to believe that each of the colours corresponds to a certain continent.

Why do the athletes take an oath at the Olympic Games?

The athlete taking the oath promises, in the name of all the other competitors, to respect the rules and participate in the competitions in a spirit of sportsmanship.The oath has been part of the Opening Ceremony since the Games of the Olympiad in Antwerp in 1920. Its text was modified at the 2000 Sydney Games and now includes a phrase confirming the will of the athlete to avoid doping. Since 1972, a referee has made the same undertaking on behalf of all the judges and officials.

What is the Olympic Oath?

The Olympic Oath is one of the rituals of the Olympic Games. It is taken by an athlete from the host country, on behalf of all the athletes. "In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams". The first Athletes' Oath was taken at the Olympic Games in Antwerp in 1920 by Victor Boin, a Belgian fencer. Since 1972, a referee has taken an oath on behalf of all the referees and officials.