There are times when athletes draw inspiration from friends and family to motivate them to try even harder. To try their best. To better their best. To win as a tribute to a loved one.
There are many examples. Knute Rockne’s half-time speech urging Notre Dame’s football team to win one for the Gipper (George Gipp, a teammate who had died) is famous. There was another movie about John Cappelletti, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1973, being inspired by his younger brother, Joey, who was dying of leukemia. If I recall correctly, it was called “Something for Joey.” People are more familiar with “Brian’s Song” about Brian Piccolo’s friendship with Gale Sayers and his fight with cancer.
I myself have written in this blog about swimming in the Senior Olympics and thinking about my father and his “do your best” attitude when I felt like slowing down. See https://cowboylawyer.wordpress.com/2012/06/08/something-for-dad/ written June 8, 2012.
I am sad to say that a few days ago I learned that a friend of mine is undergoing chemotherapy. He is an excellent swimmer. He trains much more diligently than I have. He used to contact me to chide me by noting when he had not seen me at the pool. So, when I did not see him there, I sent an email telling him when we could meet at the pool to work out together. His response was that he cannot swim because he is taking chemotherapy. That is how I learned of his health problem.
So I am telling myself to swim as hard as he used to train because he wishes he could still do that, but cannot due to the cancer. I have no excuse to avoid the pool. When I don’t swim, it is because I am lazy. When I don’t swim it is because I choose not to swim. When I don’t swim, I am not trying my best. (Sorry, Dad).
Last week I was back in the pool daily. This week I will try even harder. I will swim longer. I will swim faster. In part it is because I can. In part it is because my friend can’t. I am doing this for both of us.
The medals I will win won’t be mine. They will go to my friend. And to God goes the glory.