The True Olympians

Olympic Games 2016

Olympic Games 2016 (Photo credit: hops_76)

For many, the Olympics are about winning the most medals, and why not when the United States has 104?

Audiences everywhere watched in awe as Usain Bolt won gold in 4 x 4 100 m relay, 200 m, and 100 m, and excitement filled living rooms everywhere when Michael Phelps became the most decorated olympic athlete in history.

But two other athletes stuck out for me in a way I could never have imagined, and neither of them won medals:

Lopez Lomong

Lopez Lomong was born in South Sudan and was captured at age six in the Sudanese Civil War.  He ran for three days until he reached Kenya. In 2012, he ran 5000 metres in the London Olympics.

Sarah Attar

Sarah was not the fastest woman in the 800 metre race; in fact, she was by far the slowest. That did not stop the hundreds of spectators from applauding in a standing ovation for one of the first Saudi Arabian women ever to compete in the Olympics.

These two athletes represent the Olympic spirit in ways greater than any gold medalist this year. They are a survivor and a pioneer, reminding the world of what it means to be able to take part in such a spectacular event as this. So, while you’re counting your nation’s medals, remember that gold can break, silver fades, and bronze corrodes; but hope can never be destroyed.