Olympic Games, a place where the best performing athletes from around the globe compete against each other. Nothing feels better than seeing your country win the most number of gold medals. It is not just the medals that the Olympic Games bring with it, it has also been an arena of inspiring stories.
We all know the story of Oscar Pistorius, the popular Olympian who made history by becoming the first ever double amputee to participate in 2012 Olympic Games. Well, he is not the only “special” athlete to compete in the Olympics. Walter Bagehot once said, “a great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do”.
Here are some motivating stories of Olympic athletes who challenged the norm and pushed themselves to go beyond.
Jeff Float: A freestyle swimmer who represented America in the 1984 Olympic Games was partially deaf. When he was 13 months old, a viral that cost him his 80% hearing ability in the right ear and 60% in the left ear. An absolute memorable moment in his life was when the whole stadium cheered for him as he lifted the gold medal that year.
The hard days are the best because that’s where the champions are made!
Ildiko Rejto: Born deaf, Ildiko Rejto, who despite her disability went on to compete for Hungary in the foil fencing event from 1960 to 1976 Olympic games. This inspirational female athlete repeated history for five consecutive times. Ildiko began fencing at age 14 and has two gold, one silver and two bronze medals under her belt.
Natalie du Toit: There are many stories of courageous Olympians but this one is rather special. After missing out on the opportunity to represent South Africa in the women’s Open Water Swimming in the 2000 Olympic Games, Natalie was devastated. A year later, she met with an accident and lost her left leg below the knee. This could have been the excuse for her to stop chasing her dreams. Yet, she chose to take the challenge by the horns. She won five gold medals in the 2000 Paralympic games.
Never become comfortable, there are still many mountains to conquer.
Lis Hartel: The first ever female special Olympian, Lis Hartel, challenged stereotypes and participated in a category where women were not “allowed” to participate up until that year. She fought against men shoulder-to-shoulder in Equestrian Dressage in the 1952 Olympic Games. Paralyzed below the knee, due to the polio attack when she was 23, Lis won a silver medal in the competition.
Natalia Partyka: Natalia Partyka was born without the right arm. She learnt to make her disability her strength and participated in the 2004 Olympic Games in the table tennis event. She is a true inspiration and we should always keep her words at the back of our minds – “Believing in yourself will make you invincible”.
Such are the stories of some great Olympians who overcame adversities and left us no reason to quit.