August 25, 2008

"Is it plastic? Is it magic?"

I am glad NBC seemed to have toned down the sappy saccharine feel-good background stories of the athletes during the recent Olympics but this one is worth highlighting (not sure NBC covered it - if they did, I missed it.)

I was beginning to wonder who this time's Eric the Eel would be. (See the video of his swim from 2000, with some buffoons commentating!
How can one not cheer for the underdog and instead laugh at him, in such a case!)

Somalia's Samia Yusuf Omar probably takes that spot and deserves her few minutes of limelight on the international scene.
Quite a different and harsher return to reality for her than for any of the other Olympians, huh!
Samia Yusuf Omar headed back to Somalia Sunday, returning to the small two-room house in Mogadishu shared by seven family members. Her mother lives there, selling fruits and vegetables. Her father is buried there, the victim of a wayward artillery shell that hit their home and also killed Samia’s aunt and uncle.

This is the Olympic story we never heard.

It’s about a girl whose Beijing moment lasted a mere 32 seconds – the slowest 200-meter dash time out of the 46 women who competed in the event. Thirty-two seconds that almost nobody saw but that she carries home with her, swelled with joy and wonderment. Back to a decades-long civil war that has flattened much of her city. Back to an Olympic program with few Olympians and no facilities. Back to meals of flat bread, wheat porridge and tap water.

Read more at the article. Like she says: she does not need our pity. Quite condescending to even highlight her story like this in some ways. But in my mind this is what the Olympics are and should be about - people from all over the world coming together to give their very best and compete hard.

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