Losing Gracefully

I’ve been enjoying the Olympics this year, particularly the running portions of it. I admire the skill and the speed, the courage it takes to make your dreams happen.

While watching the women’s 1500m finals, I saw USA’s Morgan Uceny trip and fall into a heap while the other runners kept going. Frustrated, she pounded the track with her fists, and then proceeded to curl herself into a ball:

That’s the position she stayed in for quite some time, as one by one runners crossed the finish line. Uceny did not finish. She walked off the track, avoiding reporters.

While this occurred, I kept willing her to get up. My husband was watching too, and I’m sure I was more than obnoxious as I kept saying aloud, “Get up girl. Get up and keep going!” He pointed out how far ahead the other runners were. There was no way she could catch up. I knew that. But I wanted to see her try.

I have no inkling as to the amount of pressure Uceny or the other athletes feel. I can only imagine, based on some of my own mediocre experiences. I have no ideas of grandeur when it comes to running. I’ve been in a position where my back gave out on me the day before my very first half marathon, and I felt as though I wanted to curl into a ball and die. You spend months, and I’m assuming in Uceny’s case, YEARS working towards this goal. You change your diet. You wake up early and go to bed early in order to get up for that next training day. So much of your life encompasses this one dream, and to have one thing ruin your chances and smash your hopes?

It’s nothing short of horrific.

In my case, I popped 800mg of Motrin, stretched the best I could and I was able to run my race. This was a completely different scenario for Uceny, and I understand that wholeheartedly. My race was not the finals. I knew going in there was no shot at a medal for me. I just wanted to run.

I really wanted her to get back up. Even if she came in dead last, which most likely she would have. That woman would have made me cry if I’d seen her stand up and fight as hard as she could, and I’m not a crier. I felt sadness for her, but I also felt some disappointment.

So, what do you think? Do you think it was admirable for her to have her DNF? Or, should she have finished?



2 thoughts on “Losing Gracefully”

  1. IMHO, she should have gotten up and finished. It shows the pride of finishing what we start. Like it or not, olympic athletes are role models, and what she modeled was not necessarily behavior we want our kids to emulate. I believe you finish what you start. Regardless. Should the blade runner have given up before he started just because he was going to come in last?

    I can not even imagine what it is like to have this happen. How disappointing. But, out of respect for all the people that helped her get there, she should have finished.

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