Category Archives: Olympics

Can You Be An Olympian?

Two average guys, Dennis and Christian decided as part of the 5 in 5 Challenge that they would see how they fared against Olympic athletes in 5 different events. You can read more about it at the blog.

The 5 events were:

  1. 100m freestyle,
  2. 100m dash,
  3. 110m hurdles,
  4. long jump and
  5. the rings (in gymnastics)

It is a pretty neat video, so be sure to watch it.  I won’t spoil the fun, but I bet you can guess the outcome!

Finally, there is some bonus footage at their blog entry.

HT: Get Fit Slowly

[tags] Olympics, Video [/tags]

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Athletes for Darfur

The Olympics are officially over now, so this post may be a little outdated. However, the topic is still worth talking about, at least in my opinion.  China had a long list of reasons why it maybe should not have been the host for the Olympics this year, most surrounding human rights issues.  The one issue that I really know about the most is their support for African governments.

You see China has this desperate need for a substance called OIL. Some African countries are rich with oil resources. Unlike the United States, China has a very hands off approach to getting the natural resources it needs to survive.  China doesn’t really care how you get the oil to them as long as you do.  Exploit children in forced labor setting – that’s fine.  Murder thousands of children because they are a little different than you – here’s some extra money – just make sure we get our oil.

Have you heard of the Darfur region of Sudan? It is ok if you haven’t, despite massive media efforts and national and international campaigns a lot of people still have never heard of the genocide occurring in Darfur.  Groups like Save Darfur, Dream for Darfur, Genocide Intervention Network, Investors Against Genocide, and many more have been working for years to end this horrible conflict.  Some people urged the world to boycott the Olympics all together, while others were saying boycott this or boycott that part.

More recently a group of athletes competing in Beijing, formed an organization called Team Darfur.

The mission of Team Darfur is to raise awareness about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur through the voice of professional and Olympic athletes.

The Team Darfur athletes are speaking out on the Olympic stage, showing incredible courage by advocating for the people of Darfur from the heart of China. Driven by the same determination that made them Olympians, these incredible athletes know that it is our resilience and resolve that will end this genocide.

You may have heard about Team Darfur, becasue China revoked the entry visa for the organization’s co-founder and 2006 Olympic Gold Medalist Joey Cheek. While this was very frustrating and disappointing for Cheek, it brought a lot of media attention to the organization and their efforts. You can visit their site and send a note of encouragement to the almost 100 athletes who stepped up and said something must be done to end the senseless killing of innocent women and children.  Here is the most recent news story about Darfur.

Two great stories out of Sudan and this year’s Olympics are the story of Lopez Lamong carrying the US Flag during the opening ceremony and Ismail Ahmed Ismail winning the silver medal in the 800m.  Ismail is a Darfuri who ran for Sudan, winning the country’s first ever Olympic medal.

How does all of this relate to World Vision and my goal of raising $2,000 in honor of my friends in Africa? Well Darfur is located in central Africa and World Vision is doing work with Darfuri refugees in the region.  But more importantly, it is through World Vision that I first learned about the genocide in 2004.

If you have some free time I would encourage you to check out some of the various links listed above.  But if your time is short I would recommend these two actions:

1. Visit Save Darfur and take action.

2. Make a donation to World Vision in support of my goal to raise $2,000 for Africa.

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags]  World Vision, Team World Vision, Africa, Darfur, Team Darfur [/tags]

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True Olympic Spirit

So far there has been a lot of great competition in the 29th Olympiad. For me this is the first Olympics where I have seen any controversy or even thought about boycotting the Olympics. Ultimately, after reading comments from both current and former Olympians about the decision I think the world has made the right choice to not boycott.

Yes, China has a lot of policies that are really messed up and harmful to many people around the world. Every country has some policies that someone would vehemently disagree with, but the Olympics are about overcoming.  Overcoming adversity to triumph.  Overcoming fear and getting personal goals.  Overcoming politics and creating peace and unity.  The theme for this year’s Olympics is One World, One Dream.

Yao Ming & Lin Hao

Yao Ming & Lin Hao

I’ll step off my soap box and highlight some great stories about the Olympics and Olympians.

1) Opening Ceremony was pretty sweet – lots of colors, emotions, and powerful stories about the flag bearers. Including the story about Lin Hao, one of the students in May’s deadly earthquake in China.  According to the reports, this little guy pulled 2 classmates out of the school building.

2) Lopez Lomong has an amazing story. He was selected by the US Olympic Team Captains to carrying the red, white, and blue into the Olympic stadium.  You probably have heard this but he was a “Lost Boy” from Sudan. He literally ran for his life to flee the terrible violence that has killed millions.  He arrived here and has built a great running reputation.

3) Sudanese Athletes are competing and trying to overcome the violence in Darfur. Training with logs, boulders, and paint cans several athletes are in contention for medals, including Abubaker Kaki Khamis in the 800m. From the Washington Post:

“We see this as an opportunity to bring us together and lift up the country,” said [Abdullah] Nyala [Sudanese 1500 meter runner], whose parents are farmers in Darfur. “We have all tribes on the team, and there is no problem.”

“I’ve got nothing to do with the government,” Nyala said. “I’m running for Sudan, I’m running for the whole country, and I’m also doing it for myself.”

4) Ryan Hall has an amazing story and I am a big fan.  I’m sure you have heard about him! Runner’s World recently did a great spread about him. As did The New Yorker. He is a solid athlete and a medal contender in the marathon.

Lots of information is available at NBC’s website. Track events start Friday, Aug 17. The USATF has a lot of information at their site as well, including a complete roster with bios about most of the athletes.  The Final Sprint has and will have more information and stories about athletes and “live coverage”. Finally, Down the Backstretch, a Minnesota focused blog has a list of some great links to follow Olympic coverage (the links focus on more than just Minnesotans!)

[tags] Olympics, Sudan, China, USATF [/tags]

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Olympic Trials Follow-up

It seems like a lot of time has passed since the Olympic Track Trials ended a few weeks ago and we now find ourselves about halfway between their ending and the beginning of the actual Olympic games.  For the athletes there is still a lot of training to accomplish for the races ahead.

There were so many people covering the trials that you could sit comfortably at home on your couch and watch or read coverage almost non-stop.  Some of the sites I follwed were Runnerville, The Final Sprint, 3000 Miles to the Trials, NBC Olympics, and Josh Cox.

I’d like to highlight a view videos that I’ve found since the trials that I think are pretty good or relevant.

This is one with Ryan Hall after the marathon trials in November. Unfortunately, it wasn’t embeddable into the post, so follow the link and watch.

This is a somewhat funny video by Joe Cebulski. You probably have never heard of Joe but he graduated a year or two before I went to Taylor so we almost ran together! He competed in the Decathlon and placed 18th. (NBC doesn’t like to embed their videos, sorry).

I’ll end this tribute with a video of the 800.  As a former 800m runner I know the joy and pains of the race. I never would have thought about diving to the finish – but I also was never a few hundredths of a second away from going to the Olympics! So enjoy!

[tags] Olympics, Joe Cebulski, Ryan Hall, Christian Smith, Olympic Trials [/tags]

Ryan & Sara Hall Join Team World Vision

In honor of the Track and Field Trials let’s talk about some professional athletes.  Ryan and Sara Hall joined Team World Vision this year.  I’ll let you hear their story straight from their page:

A message from Ryan: “Joining Team World Vision was an answer to our prayer. Now we have something very tangible that we are fighting for out on the track, roads, or grass: to help the sick, orphaned, and poor all over the world.” Watch Ryan’s story.

To you from Sara: “Running accomplishments in and of themselves, even when you’ve reached the top, are empty without being done for a greater purpose. Team World Vision equips you as a runner with a purpose for which to train, sacrifice, and compete: the ability to change lives of African children in areas impacted by AIDS!” Read Sara’s blog and an article from the New York Times.

Ryan shares about why World Vision has become a part of his running on his blog:

For example, I learned that half of the people in the world, nearly 3 billion people, live on less than two dollars a day. Just yesterday, I was doing my easy 35 minute afternoon run and thinking about how every three seconds a child under the age of five dies as a direct result of poverty. It has finally hit me that we have a major problem here. I know that a major problem can’t be fixed overnight and I realize that I am just one man but if I can use the gifts God has given me to feed one more mouth that otherwise would not be feed, then it is worth it. One of my favorite verses from Message version of Romans simple says, “strength is for service.” I am convicted that whatever strength I have been given is not strictly for my enjoyment, but also carries with it the responsibility to carry out the Olympic spirit of providing a bright future for all humanity.

This new passion to fight global poverty has brought so much more meaning to my running. I thought about it when I was training for London, and even in the race itself, I remember looking around at the group of purely African runners and thinking that maybe I wasn’t African but I was running for their people as well as my own. I have been inspired by fellow runners Paul Tergat, Lornah Kiplagat, Kip Keino, and many other African runners who have become successful and used their fame and wealth to go back to their communities and help people. As an American, sometimes I find myself getting frustrated that the Africans have become so dominate, but if they can use it as a means to fight the poverty of their communities than I wish them the best of success. In the Olympic games I have a lot to run for. I run for God, my wife, my family, my coach, my hometown, for America, and for my fallen friend Ryan Shay, but I also run for Africa, to provide clean water for their people.

I believe that many fellow athletes have the same heart but maybe they are unsure how they can use their passion for running to help others.

Sara has some great things to say on her blog as well:

Ever since I was young, I wanted to make my mark on the world by being a missionary. In 2nd grade, I would draw pictures of myself with my 7 blonde children (and no husband present- ?) in Africa bringing aid.

God put this desire to live and work in a third world country helping to meet physical and spiritual needs in me ever since I was young. When I was preparing to graduate from Stanford, I was torn between pursuing this dream he had put in my heart, or to pursue the talent he had given me in running. In the end, I felt God prompting me to pursue a career in running for a period of time before the missions work. However, the past few years have been hard because I really don’t feel like I’ve been preparing myself for that future at all- if anything, it is making me accustomed to a life of selfishness and self-indulgence, which will only make life on the missions field more of a culture shock!

The reason I’ve continued running professionally is with the hope that somehow God can use it for something greater, something larger than myself. The exciting thing is, now I am finally beginning to get a glimpse of how that can happen. Ryan and I met with some leaders from an organization called World Vision to talk about partnering with them in their work though starting “Team World Vision”.

Ryan and I had the chance to see first hand one of their community development projects in Mexico this past weekend. It was so awesome to meet the people living in these communities outside of Tiajuana and hear firsthand how they have benefited from World Vision’s programs. I met children who were being sponsored to go to school and have enough money for nutritious food through their child sponsorship program (if you’re a skeptic like me, sometimes you wonder whether your money actually goes to a specific child- well it does!), meet women who have been taught skills they can use to make products out of their home while still taking care of their children, met teenagers that have been spared a life of drugs and gangs because of the sports programs that have taken their time and attention, and families who don’t have to sleep in the mud because World Vision’s donated supplies to fix their roofs and pour cement floors. It made me long to stay in that village and join in hands-on, but I am hoping that by crossing back over the border and returning to my training, my efforts can be magnified!

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

[tags] World Vision, Team World Vision, Africa Ryan Hall, Sara Hall[/tags]