Life Lessons: The beauty and reality of sports and competition


As I watch the Olympics and I see the sheer beauty and euphoric elation of victory and the heartbreaking and crushing disappointment of defeat I am caught up in the highs and lows of these athletes who put everything on the line. I am amazed at the stories of these athletes and I explain to my son how hard these athletes work and the many sacrifices they make to get to this level of competition. The concept of victory and defeat in sport is necessary as there will always be a winner and there will always be a loser upon the completion of a sporting competition. This is the duality of sports.

The many hard years of training and sacrifices made by these athletes to have the opportunity to perform on the Olympic stage for all the world to see is very inspirational and requires many years of discipline, dedication, personal sacrifice and a firm commitment requiring many hours, days, weeks, months, years and perhaps decades of consistent hard work. An Olympic athlete’s life is centered around their sport and the many competitions to bring them to another level. Not many athletes can achieve this level of competition so for those who do achieve this level it is a dream come true and an honor they accept with pride serving their country in sports competition and they all have a willing commitment to try their best and prepare for the challenge ahead.

When you view a figure skating competition whether it is pairs or the ladies competition it is so beautiful to watch. The women are dressed so pretty and they are so graceful and in the pairs the man and the woman working together in sync is just amazing to watch. At times it is hard to watch knowing how hard these athletes have trained and to have such pressure to perform at their best. It is sad to see particularly in figure skating when the ice skater falls. You want everything to go perfect for them. I admire the skater who falls though and gets back up to continue their program. It takes courage to continue when you know you have fallen. It is heartbreaking but you gain respect for these athletes because you realize how much they sacrificed to get to this stage and how hard they worked along the way.

Of the Olympic competition I would have to say that I am particularly fond of the winter sports and the ice skating, skiing, speed skating and ski jumping are my favorites. I watch the luge competition as well and was heart broken to hear of the passing of an athlete during a training run. The sport of luge is very dangerous and the athletes are experiencing speeds of close to 100 miles an hour on solid ice with their body literally as the vehicle on a small sled like device called a luge. If the athlete loses control at those speeds they surely will crash and in this case with the athlete who died during practice his body was thrown from the luge like a rag doll. The paramedics rushed to try and save him but it was to no avail as he died at the hospital. Here was an athlete who didn’t really have a chance to win a medal but he trained hard and wanted to represent his country and try his best in the name of Olympic competition. It is very sad and it shows you the harsh realities of sports and competition. It is not always fun and celebration. There is a lot of heartbreak and tragedy in sports too.

I was caught up in the pairs figure skating and was rooting for the Chinese couple competing for 18 years together in the sport who also fell in love and plan to marry upon completion of the Olympic training and competition. Your heart went out for them and when you saw them try their best even if they made some mistakes in their program you felt very happy for them. There story is so compelling with all the adversity and injuries they faced and to come out of retirement to strive for the goal of an Olympic gold medal in the 4th attempt in Olympic competition is truly inspiring. To see them win gold as they worked so hard to do and see it become a reality was a tremendous moment. Another Chinese couple who did not seem likely to medal were also a delight to watch as they skated to pure perfection and were so beautiful and graceful. I thought it was wonderful to see the 2 Chinese couples both win medals and while watching them I felt sheer joy for them both. To see the smiles and the tears makes you feel the emotion of an athlete and all they go through. We only see their dream but there is so much behind the scenes we will never know. It is nice when you see the stories and come to understand the athlete and their purpose and dedication to their sport and their country.

These are valuable learning lessons I teach my son and I tell him that he can surely learn a lot from these athletes and can also be inspired by them. My son inspires me and I always tell him that in life if you want to achieve something you have to work hard and devote your time and effort. If you try your best then you have done good. These are words of wisdom I have always shared with my son as my parents shared with me.

I dedicate this to the fallen luger who did his country and his family proud and we all are sad to learn of his passing and pray for him and his family to heal.

Edward D. Iannielli III

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