This week South African swimmer Cameron Van Der Burgh won the Gold Medal in the 100 meter breastroke, and set a world record in the process.
In a dramatic twist, he also admitted to cheating while doing it.
In international breast stroke competition, swimmers are only allowed one “dolphin kick” (wiggling like a worm underwater) before beginning their strokes. Television cameras showed Van Der Burgh taking at least three.
Dolphin kicks maintain the momentum from the dive or wall push, allowing you to continue torpedoing through the water… as opposed to say, swimming.
To be fair, many Olympic swimmers do this. In fact, dolphin kicks were completely illegal until it was discovered that nearly all competitors were performing them, then the governing body decided to allow one.
This giving an inch has led to taking a mile, or in Van Der Burgh’s case 20,000 leagues.
To be honest, Van Der Burgh didn’t volunteer that he cheated, but when confronted, he confirmed and then defended his decision.
“‘If you’re not doing it, you’re falling behind. It’s not obviously – shall we say – the moral thing to do, but I’m not willing to sacrifice my personal performance and four years of hard work for someone who is willing to do it and get away with it.”
How twisted is the logic being employed here?
I’d ask any person who finds themselves quietly agreeing with the Olympic Champion’s sentiments to consider how self-centered his statement is.
It’s the functional equivalent of ME stealing YOUR hamburger, and then saying that it wasn’t wrong because “If I didn’t do it, the Hamburglar might take it first… and that was a chance I wasn’t willing to take.”
Of course, lost in all of this “hypothesizing” about somebody else doing it and getting away with it is the fact that HE was the person who cheated and got away with it!
Congratulations Cameron Van Der Burgh;
You are the Olympic Hamburglar you feared.
Is it possible that Van Der Burgh’s pursuit of a Gold Medal got in the way of his pursuit of the Olympic ideals?
Everyone who competes desires a medal, but if the reason we compete is “for a medal” we become willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it, including cheating.
Remember that medals are the by-product of victory, not victory itself.
Van Der Burgh should ask Marion Jones how her gold medals felt the day it was proved that she cheated to get them. How did they feel when she was serving the prison sentence that accompanied her conviction?
A Gold Medal at the expense of honor and integrity isn’t a victory, it’s the hollow reminder of our willingness to trample on anything for the sake of gratifying our own ego.
It’s essential to understand that “the prize” is simply the by-product of singular excellence in this pursuit.
Most Olympians win without ever medaling;
and some medal while failing miserably.
Sarah Attar finished her 800 meter race nearly 43 seconds after the winner did. 43 seconds is nearly an eternity in a 2 lap race.
As she crossed the finish line, spectators cheered and applauded the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s first-ever female track and field competitor.
Saudi Arabia is a country where “what’s good for the gander” is usually forbidden “for the goose”. For Attar to even train, let alone be sponsored by her government, was an implausibility just a few years ago.
The Kingdom’s fiercest crossed the finish line wearing full sleeves top and bottom, and her head covered.
In doing so she brought honor and dignity to not only herself but the people that she had travelled to represent.
She worked every bit as hard as Van Der Burgh did physically, but emotionally and mentally she overcame so much more didn’t she?
It was the kind of victory that didn’t need a medal to validate it.
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.”-I Corinthians 9:24-27
*I heard it