Olympic-sized inspiration

The 2012 Olympiad is history and Jeremy Brown (’94,’96M) is back home in the USA but only temporarily. He is already planning trips to Sochi and Rio. How cool would it be, he writes, if JMU folks organized to “have a little Madison influence become part of the Olympic experience at the next host city!” To inspire you to begin planning for the next Olympics Games, here’s Jeremy’s final post about his 2012 Olympic experience. You can let Jeremy know with a comment here if you’re game for visiting the next Olympics. Sochi and Rio, here comes Madison…..

Olympic-sized inspiration

by Jeremy Brown (’94,’96M), guest blogger

London met their challenge to inspire a generation.

All good things must come to an end, even the Olympics. As the torch was extinguished, the world’s athletes retired until coming together again in Sochi, Russia, in 18 months. The Games of the 30th Olympiad in London focused the world’s attention on a shared experience of hope, courage and possibility. This is truly unique in our modern times that often seem to connect only through tragedy or conflict. The creators of the modern Olympics hoped for a gathering that would bring the world together and provide hope for a more congenial global family. London showed us it is possible.

The London games had the motto of “Inspire a Generation.” London Olympic Chairman Lord Coe, himself a former Olympic athlete, and the London organizing committee set out to execute an Olympic plan that would be the spark for a nation — and perhaps the world. Looking back, the opening ceremonies and particularly the lighting of the torch highlighted this effort to inspire the youth of Britain and the world. Unlike past games, a popular athlete or past champion did not light the torch. For the London games, six “future Olympians” assembled to do the honors. In an emotional and touching moment, these young athletes paused before the six dominant British champions in their disciplines. More than 200 past British Olympic Champions gathered behind them. How could any young hopeful child in Britain not be inspired?

Great Britain shone at the Olympics in both organization and athletics.

You see, Great Britain had not been strong at the Olympics in recent years; just one gold medal in 1996. The entire nation focused on increasing training and coaching of sport across the board. When London found out in 2005 they would host the 2012 games, it was time to show that their efforts worked. Now after the games, there is no doubt that Britain’s plans worked; Team GB had its most successful games in 100 years. Their champions were hard working and dedicated athletes, a great example to the scores of children hoping to match their success someday. I would be shocked if a surge in sport participation does not follow these games in the UK. Expect more great results from Team GB in Rio in 2016.

The inspiration was not limited to the host country. The actions of a single athlete can change an entire country. I was lucky to see the gold medal round of the men’s individual epee at the fencing venue. The unexpected victor was a 27-year-old Venezuelan named Ruben Gascon. His gold medal was the first for Venezuela since 1968. The people of his country were celebrating in the streets for a fencing gold medal. I am sure more than one little boy or girl with a dream started waving a stick that night. Guatemala, Cyprus and Grenada won their first medals ever. Scores of other stories could be written on how the experience of a single athlete, even without a victory, would change their home country.

The inspiration can reach across nations as well. You would have had to be on Mars to miss the story of double amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. His experience at these games inspires everyone that anything is possible.

Ready for Russia: Jeremy with Sochi’s mascot Cheburashka.

Then there are the women; so many inspiring moments for the little girls of the world. For the first time, Team USA had more female athletes and more women medaled than men. This was also the first Olympics in which women from every country that fielded athletes participated. Women competing from nations such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar will spark for more in the future.

In a nation as large and as successful as the United States it is easy to take for granted wins and medals at the Games. Team USA dominated at basketball reassuring thousands of kids to continue their hoop dreams. More inspiring to our future Olympians might be the non-marquis successes in sports, like boxing, wrestling, judo, rowing, shooting, archery, cycling and diving. Even I wanted to go learn to dive after watching David Boudia win gold for the U.S!

The games closed with the call for the youth of the world to gather for the next games. I will be attending the 2014 Games as a spectator in Russia and hope to go to Brazil as a volunteer for 2016. We all leave the Olympic experience with a greater sense of the world we live in and perhaps a desire to be stronger, higher and faster in our own pursuits. As a part of the Madison family we all share that hope to be better citizens of our hometowns and the world. I end these Games with a hope to do even more good in the world — to “Be the Change.”

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About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

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