Monday, June 2, 2008

Gaining Respect by Giving Up Gold

I never liked Michael Johnson.

It is not that I ever thought he was cheating. I just did not like the way he conducted himself. I always felt that he was obnoxiously overconfident, wearing gold shoes as he ran his races. I enjoy watching great athletes, and especially like to hear humility in their voices. The all time greats that let others judge their greatness earn my everlasting respect and admiration.

Today, however, I must profess my respect and admiration for the man. In the wake of Antonio Pettigrew's admission that he was doping when he helped the 1600 meter relay team win the gold medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Johnson has said that he will return his gold medal from that event to the International Olympic Committee. Saying that he does not want the medal, as he feels "cheated, betrayed and let down," Johnson has stated that he does not want the tainted medal on display with the four golds that he rightfully earned.

Johnson's revelation of humility is a refreshing breath of fresh air in the acrid atmosphere surrounding track and field. Other athletes have turned over their medals, but only when disgraced by their own conduct, exemplified by the Marion Jones situation. Johnson, on the other hand, is not waiting for the IOC, the IAAF, or the Court of Arbitration for Sport to order the relay results changed and the medals turned over. Instead, he is standing on his own principles, and acknowledging that, through no fault or failure of his own, he does not deserve one of the accolades that he has received.

Voicing support for the current crop of young (and hopefully 100% clean) runners who are making headlines around the world, such as new 100 meter world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica, Johnson is doing his part to propel the sports world forward, and out from under the cloud of performance enhancing drugs that have tainted every record, medal, and result for at least the better part of two decades. Hopefully, Johnson's success through discipline, and his personal standards, will stand as a shining example to this and future generations of athletes and stars.


Anonymous said...

Today I ate some kettle corn.