In Parts 1 & 2 you were introduced to a legally blind Korean archer and a wheelchair bound Hungarian fencer.
We often find motivational and inspirational stories by
watching Olympians excel in athletic competition. Parts 1 & 2 of this
series told stories of athletes who have overcome great physical challenges to
succeed against the odds. This story is different. It’s a story of sacrificing
an Olympic dream for something more important.
This is the story of Canadian sailor Larry Lemieux.
During the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, Lemieux was sailing alone
near the halfway point in second place in the fifth of a seven-race event.
It suddenly became very windy, escalating from 15 to 35
knots. On a nearby course, 2 Singapore sailors in another race were thrown into
the rough water. Injured, they were unable to right their damaged boat.
Upon seeing the capsized crew, Lemieux broke away from his
race and sailed to rescue them. After rescuing and getting them to an official
patrol boat, he rejoined his race and finished 22nd.
By going off course and saving the lives of those two men,
Lemieux forfeited an almost certain medal.
But his selfless act did not go unrecognized: soon after the
race, the jury of the International Yacht Racing Union unanimously decided that
Lemieux should be awarded second place, the position he was in when he went to
the aid of the Singapore crew. At the medal awards ceremony, Lemieux was
awarded the Pierre de Coubertin Medal for Sportsmanship (only 11 of these have
been awarded since it was introduced in 1964).
As is the story of Im Dong Hyun (Olympic Inspiration Part 1) and Pál Szekeres (Part 2), this is motivational and inspirational
stuff. The next time you are faced with a tough decision in your pursuit of
success think about Larry Lemieux and maybe that decision will not seen that
daunting and your situation will not seem that dire. If sailor can do “the
right thing” even at the cost of his Olympic dream, you can find the strength you
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