Oscar Pistorius (and Other Track-Related Paraphernalia)


For some strange reason, when a workout gets tough, I envision what a professional athlete would be doing in my situation. Sort of like, a WWJD type thing, except since Jesus wasn’t an athlete, I put the closest thing to a godlike athlete I can find in his place: an Olympic champion. Most of the time, I’ll envision myself as Michael Phelps. I think of him as simply invincible when he’s in the pool. He’s strong and poised. He doesn’t let anything get in his way. He doesn’t play for the crowd, but he competes for himself. When I get tired, I tell myself, “keep pushing. You think Michael Phelps would allow himself to fall apart like this?” By pushing myself, I’m bringing myself one step closer to achieving my inner Michael Phelps. While i don’t foresee my Olympic endeavors expanding much farther than the comforts of my own couch (or hopefully someday, the stands), imagining I’m training for them is more than enough motivation.

As much as I love Michael Phelps, I’m here to talk to you about someone different. Someone who has a special place in my heart. An athlete who’s changed my mentality. By the title, I’m sure you can guess who I’m talking about. I’m writing about him today, not because of all the controversy he’s caused, or even because I’ll miss him if he’s sentenced to a life in prison. Nothing validates me to have an opinion on that side of his story, because I’m nothing more than a fan. I don’t know what really happened, and I’m not sure if I’d be happy with the truth if I did know it. The only thing that matters to me in the situation is that an innocent woman died, and my heart goes out to the entirety of the Pistorius and Steenkamp families.

I want to talk about Oscar today because it is the Indoor Track and Field state championship. I know I’ve previously said I envision myself as Mr. Phelps, but something about that steaming hot 400 rubber track is special. As I am not really a track athlete, and i push myself to run track as a way to train harder for my other sports, the track and the pain associate with finishing a race scares me. For that reason, I have to envision myself as someone with an incredible amount of courage. Courage that I don’t normally have. If you don’t know Oscar’s story, it’s a good one. (I’m sure Wikipedia would be happy to share it with you.) When he defied all odds by running the 400m in the able body Olympics, he was a winner in my eyes, regardless of what he placed. From the moment I watched the race up until now, he’s been a hero of mine.

He shows me that even when nobody else believes in your capabilities, you’ve got to believe in yourself. People will always try to put you down but, you’ve got to keep them on your good side, and make your best move. You CAN do it. But most of all, he’s taught me that sometimes winning isn’t the end all be all. For most of us, just doing it is enough to make ourselves and our loved ones proud, we’ll get a second chance, or find a goal that we’re more inept to achieve. Because you see, sport can be tedious. It can be fun. You’ll make friends, and you might fail. Sometimes you’ll be too tired, and sometimes things will just go your way. But you’re learning much more than teamwork or how to play a game. You’re preparing your mind and body for life beyond the court, the field, or in this case, the track. You’re building yourself into a determined and highly capable human being.

And that is more than 50% of what it takes to be successful.

And at that, it’s time to warm up.