Saturday, 11 August 2012

London Olympics: heroes abound

The British haul of gold medals at the Olympics, 26 so far, is amazing, but given the Olympics' international nature foreign athletes have also proven themselves heroes.

Meseret Defar: click to read more
Take the women’s 5000m, in which the planet’s three fastest women collected the goods: Ethiopia’s Mereset Defar on gold with her teammate Tirunesh Dibaba getting bronze, and between them Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot getting a silver. A tearful Defar brought out an icon of the Virgin and child and displayed it to the audience as the source of her strength: as a display of faith, I believe it will come to stand beside Eric Liddell’s refusal to run on a Sunday.

read about Oscar Pistorius' journey at the Telegraph website
South Africa’s Oscar Pistorius is a particular hero of mine, not only for his dogged determination to run at the Olympics with his prosthetic legs but because of his motto: "you are not disabled by the disabilities you have, you are able by the abilities you have".

There’s been much comment that for the first time Saudi Arabia has sent female athletes, runner Sarah Attar and judoka Wojdan Shaherkani. Mayor of London Boris Johnson took the optimistic view that "Saudi women will never look back". While I’d like to agree, I’m drawn towards Meghan Lewis when she indicates that two women at the Olympics do not a women’s-rights revolution make, and adds that allowing women to drive might be a better sign of progress.

Sarah Attar: click to read more
Worryingly, a twitter campaign featuring the hashtag "#prostitutesattheOlympics" originated in Saudi Arabia, because the women had confounded cynics who assumed they’d show up in full veils, but although every part of their bodies except their faces were covered they still suffered abuse. Attar (right) lives in California, but Shaherkani has to return to Saudi Arabia. For her guts, I consider her every bit as much a hero as Pistorius and Defar.

Gerry Dorrian
300 words

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