Nimble bodies flail up in the air, defying gravity. With agility, strength, and grace honed by pains-taking years of training, they roll-over, tumble, and ricochet like darting bullets at speeds that please the eye. Strained to the limits, their bodies go after the quintessential achievements in competitive sports.
In the coming Beijing Olympics, athletes accept the risks of injury if only to nail a glowing moment on the podium for themselves and for the country they represent. The challenge for an exceptional performance is so strong that some would do anything to pursue it.
The strict discipline of training, exercise, and diet may not be enough to assure a medal. Politics, government interference, change of health, and even foul weather can stand on the way. All the preparations may altogether be wasted if the window of opportunity to compete closes prematurely.
Paul Hamm, USA’s top seed for gymnastics gold, knows it first hand. (Photo:NYTimes/SilvermanB) He bows out from the race at the eve of the 2008 Beijing Games because of a strained rotator cuff and a hand fracture that didn’t recuperate on time. The same happened to legendary figure skater Michelle Kwan in 2006 Torino Winter Olympics when groin injuries booted her out of competition, abruptly ending her dreams of gold.
Nature has a way of demanding what must be for the body and the soul. Even the best of talented athletes are governed by the laws of injury and repair. It takes time for healing to proceed, be it in the mind or in the bone. =0=