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What athletes are your "all-time" Olympic heroes?

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Do you have athletes, who you "admire" for their splendid performance at Olympic Games (not necessary Olympic Champions)?

Do you have athletes, who you "admire" not for their sport performance only but as example for Olympic ideals resp. of a human being?

Here is the thread where we can talk about them!

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Seb, you're being discriminatory. I think Gabby Andersen-Scheiss presented a more pathetic sight at the end of her marathon in 1984!

I mean she was such a drama queen, even more so than Dorando Pietri (sp?) or Mr. Akwari.

But to me, I think my amongst my all-time Olympic heroes are:

- Wilma Rudolph who overcame polio as a child to become a world-class runner!!

- Liz Hertl, the Danish equestrienne who wore braces (again I think because of polio) but still went on to become a champion horsewoman!!

- Of course, the great Abebe Bikila who ran the old Appian Way course barefoot!!

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Ferdnand Bie (Norway) and Hugo Wieslander (SWE), who didn't accept GOLD in Pentathlon and Decathlon in Stockholm after Jim Thorpe was disqualified by the IOC, since he played for few cents/dollars Baseball as a teen. The IOC decided to reinstate Jim Thorpe as Olympic Champion in 1982.

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Seb, you're being discriminatory. I think Gabby Andersen-Scheiss presented a more pathetic sight at the end of her marathon in 1984!

I mean she was such a drama queen, even more so than Dorando Pietri (sp?) or Mr. Akwari.

But to me, I think my amongst my all-time Olympic heroes are:

- Wilma Rudolph who overcame polio as a child to become a world-class runner!!

- Liz Hertl, the Danish equestrienne who wore braces (again I think because of polio) but still went on to become a champion horsewoman!!

- Of course, the great Abebe Bikila who ran the old Appian Way course barefoot!!

Way I see it Baron the difference between Akhwari and Andersen-Scheiss is that Akhwari had that unique combination of historical context (running for a small African country with little Olympic heritage in an era where African distance runners were beginning to emerge as a major symbol of the continent's sporting and hence political prestige) plus his efforts were eulogised by the only real poet of the Olympic movement, Bud Greenspan (whose footage and the associated narration is just brilliant). And of course his quote is simply pure Olympic idealism...something that is a rare and dying thing in the five ring circus.

Andersen-Scheiss on the other hand was a competitive Swiss athlete who was not dead last in her event (ran in the brutal heat of a LA day) and her pathetic (and I mean pathos generating, not weak or badly run) finishing effort was more an indictment of the medical staff and officials at LA84 than a celebration of her spirit. But you can read more about what I think here:

Gaby Andersen-Scheiss: Staggering Into History

And another inspirational legend of the games has to be Emil Zatopek...

Emil Zatopek: The Czech Locomotive in Helsinki

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As a Canadian I like Catriona Le May Doan because she's a winner.

I like Joannie Rochette because she is very brave and made everyone cry.

Overall I admire Cathy Freeman because there must have been sooooooooo much pressure when she ran the 400m in Sydney and she did not disappoint.

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My all-time Olympic Hero is Michelle Kwan.

She went into Nagano as the favorite and skated really well but couldn't win. Later she went on Leno and said "I didn't lose the gold I won the silver" which was so admirable.

Then in SLC2002 she again went in as the reigning World Champion and co-favorite, but I guess the pressure got to her and she ended up with a bronze. Kwan skated in the gala to "Fields of Gold" and it was one of the most emotional performance ever, possible only behind Rochette's Vancouver skates.

Finally in Torino, she fought to be in the Games but withdrew due to her hip injury. NBC asked her to stay around possibly as a commentator but Kwan declined because she didn't want to take the attention away from other US skaters.

Kwan's tenacity and her love for the competition was why I admire her so much.

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I've actually being trying to think long and hard over this since the thread was posted yesterday. I just don't think there's any particular athlete from any era or time or event that I look to as a "hero" or performance that I look to for inspiration. The final half hour of the 1989 Rugby League Grand Final is probably my ultimate transcendent period where sport took me to highs and depths of joy and despair, I've sorta always liked the story of Lutz Long and Jesse Owens and Cathy Freeman is probably the athlete I most "like". But hero-worship? No, not really anything or anyone.

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I've actually being trying to think long and hard over this since the thread was posted yesterday. I just don't think there's any particular athlete from any era or time or event that I look to as a "hero" or performance that I look to for inspiration. The final half hour of the 1989 Rugby League Grand Final is probably my ultimate transcendent period where sport took me to highs and depths of joy and despair, I've sorta always liked the story of Lutz Long and Jesse Owens and Cathy Freeman is probably the athlete I most "like". But hero-worship? No, not really anything or anyone.

Lutz Long and Jesse Owens' story is a another fave, but it seems to be so apocryphal that I'm inclined to put it aside as a nice Olympic legend.

And considering that Melbourne probably bought the 99 Grand Final (that was no penalty try) I'd rather keep to the clean world of Olympic idolatry :D

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Lutz Long and Jesse Owens' story is a another fave, but it seems to be so apocryphal that I'm inclined to put it aside as a nice Olympic legend.

It is funny that many people believe the "legend" that Adolf Hitler denied shaking hands with Jesse Owens - that is not quite correct...

It is fact that Adolf Hitler welcomed the German Olympic Champions in his box on the first day of the Games, but the IOC advised him, that he has to welcome all Olympic Champions in his box or none due Olympic Neutrality...

Adolf Hitler decided to welcome no Olympic Champion anymore...

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Methinks CAF Berlin 36 has so many misconceptions simply because Owens was such an iconic Olympian with the attendant stuff of legends. The same goes for Luz Long and the long jump story, where he supposedly gave Owens advice on his starting position. The books I have on these games (Hart-Davis, Mandell and Walters's each have great coverage of the games in their titles) are all ambivalent as to whether it actually occurred.

I wonder if there are any SOGs more written about than Berlin. Hmmm...perhaps another thread for that question lol

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Methinks CAF Berlin 36 has so many misconceptions simply because Owens was such an iconic Olympian with the attendant stuff of legends. The same goes for Luz Long and the long jump story, where he supposedly gave Owens advice on his starting position. The books I have on these games (Hart-Davis, Mandell and Walters's each have great coverage of the games in their titles) are all ambivalent as to whether it actually occurred.

I wonder if there are any SOGs more written about than Berlin. Hmmm...perhaps another thread for that question lol

I think the "Berlin 36'-Olympics" are and will be always an issue, since on one hand they were very well organised, but on the other hand they show what autocratic regimes can do with international sport events...

But I am convinced that the fact that "Berlin 36'" was held in an autocratic country is a matter in the western democracies only - I doubt that it is an issue e.g. in PR China. Perhaps a poll about "Would you award Olympic Games toward an autocratic country?" might be interesting...

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Paavo Nurmi (FIN) won in Paris 1924 five golds in athletics - the golds in 1,500 m and 5,000 m in 45 minutes.

He was the one who lit the Olympic Flame in Helsinki 1952!

Actually Paavo only carried the torch round the stadium in Helsinki...it was his great rival and team mate Hannes Kölehmainen who actually lit the cauldron.

Paavo is a legend but there was that almost mechanical or unemotional aspect to his running that I think reduces his stature as a hero. Plus considering his efforts were pre-WW2 and at a time when the games were less than the huge multinational spectacular they are now with TV to help hype his achievements it's hard to find an eagerness to idolise him.

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Paavo is a legend but there was that almost mechanical or unemotional aspect to his running that I think reduces his stature as a hero.

... mhh - you might be right that he doesn't fit with the image of a hero nowadays, but I think his performance was just great in "his time"...

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... mhh - you might be right that he doesn't fit with the image of a hero nowadays, but I think his performance was just great in "his time"...

Greatness as an athlete is easily quantifiable, insofar as records set, medals won etc...but being a hero or an idol, well that's far harder. Sometimes hero gets bandied around too easily, and in recent times what with the cult of celebrity and 24/7 media shopping around for 'heroes' then someone like a Michael Phelps gets elevated to that status when in all honesty he's just a brilliant athlete.

Someone like a Stauffenburg or an Audie Murphy or in Australian history Reg Saunders qualifies as a true hero. Most of the Olympians we admire or respect are more like great athletes. Human spirit and the exposure to incredibly dangerous situations are the real indications of a hero.

Unless of course you subscribe to Joseph Campbell's writings and need a quest in the story as well :)

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Actually Paavo only carried the torch round the stadium in Helsinki...it was his great rival and team mate Hannes Kölehmainen who actually lit the cauldron.

Uhmmm...Paavo lit a brazier/cauldron on the field...then handed the flame to 1 young football player who then handed it to 3 others on the stairs of the tower; and finally to Hannes who was waiting atop the tower and lit the tower "beacon" there. So it was kinda a double lighting...like Innsbruck 1976. Read all about it in my book, page 102.

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Uhmmm...Paavo lit a brazier/cauldron on the field...then handed the flame to 1 young football player who then handed it to 3 others on the stairs of the tower; and finally to Hannes who was waiting atop the tower and lit the tower "beacon" there. So it was kinda a double lighting...like Innsbruck 1976. Read all about it in my book, page 102.

Nah...gonna wait till the Andrew Lloyd-Webber/P.Diddy/Dolly Parton Broadway Musical version...'Paint Your Rings' :P

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Revisionist!! :P

I prefer the term Backsliding Menshevik Gutter Hyena but I'll take revisionist if I gotta. :rolleyes:

And of course Baron before there is 'Paint Your Ring' there has to be a successful revival at the Lausanne Olympic Bunker and Dinner Theatre of 'Man Of la Mancha' starring Juan Antonio Samaranch Jnr as young Don Quixote, a wax model of JAS the elder as old Quixote, Jacques as Sancho Panza and Anita de Frantz as Dulcinea. The big set piece for 'The Impossible Dream' is I believe placed outside the salt Lake City 2002 Bid HQ where certain Utah businessmen shovel buckets of cash and trinkets into Juan's saddlebags as JR looks on in mock disgust :lol:

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Someone like a Stauffenburg or an Audie Murphy or in Australian history Reg Saunders qualifies as a true hero. Most of the Olympians we admire or respect are more like great athletes. Human spirit and the exposure to incredibly dangerous situations are the real indications of a hero.

I agree the usage of the term "hero" is inflationary and agree, too, that you need something more than to win medals to become a hero - I even differ between "heroes", who risk their life for others, and "heroes", who risk their life due their job...

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