Having grown up an athlete with dreams of Olympic glory, its history and the challenges of reaching the pinnacle of sport have been lifelong interests. Of course, the Olympics have changed dramatically over the decades. Professional athletes are now permitted to participate in what was originally meant only for amateurs, new sports such as mountain biking, rock climbing and skateboarding now shine as Olympic sports, and spoiled athletes (particularly American) continue to press the boundaries in efforts to force their agendas.
Very little in life draws my ire than athletes who disrespect the very flag that symbolizes the country for whom they compete. Using the Olympics as a stage to press political or social agendas is just not right!
One such agenda that has festered for decades is the refusal by some Arab athletes to compete with Israeli athletes. Often, it is Arab sport leaders pressuring athletes not to acknowledge the Jewish state by competing against them. Rarely does an international sporting event featuring both Israelis and Arabs go off without an Arab contestant refusing to compete against an Israeli. It is commonplace, particularly it seems, in judo.
But something different happened this Olympics! Saudia Arabia’s Tahani Al-Qahtani chose to compete against Israel’s Raz Hershko in a 78-kilo judo match. It was a huge moment and it is what the Olympics are all about: competing for your country against the world’s best (regardless of nation) on the world’s biggest stage, all while competing fairly and showing sportsmanship! That match had it all!
Check out the report and what each athlete had to say following the match:
So, while the American women’s soccer team chose to use the games to make political statements, these two athletes demonstrated what the Olympics are really all about! They were both winners!
PS: Not every America athlete is a spoiled brat with an agenda to press! Here’s an American Olympic moment that also makes me smile!