The 2012 London Olympics were successful for many athletes in various events. Multiple Olympic records were smashed and competitors such as Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps, and Abby Wambach claimed gold medals in their respective events. Although these achievements are fantastic, the Olympics this year, as well as every year, showed its purpose definitively. Unity was a major theme among athletes of different countries. Many displays of sportsmanship and overall kindness among nations triumphed over any previous feelings of hatred. Countries that normally will argue about various political and religious matters instead use sports as common ground to stop fighting. An atmosphere of respect surrounds these athletes. For instance, on the medal stand, a Chinese diver bowed to her opponent on the medal stand to signify she had been defeated earnestly by a worthy opponent. Furthermore, the semifinal 200 meter heat showed Usain Bolt, in his almost untouchable dominance, silencing a reporter after the race so they could pay respect to the national anthem of a different country than his own. These athletes understood the true meaning of the Olympics is not winning, but respect.
Constantly, we hear of professional athletes failing to show sportsmanship and kindness to other athletes. The Olympics were no place for that kind of behavior as the International Olympic Committee took it upon themselves to immediately squelch any problems involving intolerance. In fact, two athletes were sent home by simple remarks deemed as racist. The IOC did an excellent job of banning intolerance, while the athletes purported tolerance. For Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, the acceptance was second nature. Pistorius was born without legs and has always used prosthetics in order to compete in track. Pistorius was finally allowed to compete this year in the Olympics after repeated being banned from competition because people claimed his prosthetic legs gave him an advantage. At the end of his semifinal 400 meter race, Pistorius swapped race bibs with Kirani James of Grenada (the eventually champion). James showed Pistorius he was welcome to compete in the sport as an equal. One thing spectators may not have realized is Pistorius, who is white, is from a country historically prejudiced against black people. When he exchanged race bibs with James, who is black, he truly showed the unity of people of different races.
Finally, individuals are what make the Olympics the greatest event in all of sports. I would like to share my favorite Olympic moment of all time. Although the London Olympics had many awesome moments of tolerance and sportsmanship, none can surpass Lawrence Lemieux’s rescue at the 1988 games. Lemieux, a Canadian sailor, was in second place and in a good position to take a medal when he observed two Singaporean sailors failing to upright their capsized boat. He noticed they were injured and was concerned about their safety. He turned his boat completely around and assisted them to land. These sailors were in rough conditions and could have died without the heroic actions of Lemieux. People wonder about the true nature of this collection of sports every 4 years. They wonder about its purpose and meaning. This purpose and meaning are clear: we are one world, one people, united over common ground, who will continue to help and encourage each other to do our best in our endeavors and together will share happiness for now and the rest of our lives.