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Nodar Kumaritashvili…

I have been sitting here for half an hour trying to find the right words with which to start a post about Nodar Kumaritashvili and his gut-wrenching death this afternoon. But there are no perfect words to describe something so tragic.

On my way to work this morning I was listening to Tony Kornheiser’s radio show. Amid his usual ranting, he was talking about American skier Lindsay Vonn and the devastating injury she suffered last week. Favoured to bring home a gold medal, Vonn sustained a deep bruise to her shin that might keep her out of the games. As I listened to them discuss her fortunes, I was struck by how terrible it would be to be her right now.

If LeBron James gets injured next week, that would be unfortunate and he’d miss out on an opportunity to win his sport’s top prize, but he’d be back next year with the same opportunity. For Vonn, the next time her sport is on the global stage competing for its top prize is four years from now. For an athlete four years is half a lifetime. There are any number of things that could change between then and now. So, to miss out on your dreams, on something you have worked so hard for your entire life, to miss out on it at the very last minute, well that just struck me as terrible…

… but, of course, there are worse things in life.

Nodar Kumaritashvili was just twenty-one, he had his whole life in front of him, and while I can’t speak for him, I imagine that this was the happiest week of his life. Then one bad turn… Tragedies are part of the capriciousness of life. Yet on the eve of a fortnight of joy, a time celebrating humanity, unity, peace and the role of athletics in tying all those themes together, the tragedy is all the harder to bear.

My thoughts go out to the Olympic organizers who, whatever you might think of the games themselves, have worked so hard to bring something uplifting to Vancouver and in their worst nightmares could not have anticipated a young athlete dying in training just hours before the opening ceremonies. My thoughts go out to all the other luge athletes who have spent their lives preparing for these games and suddenly face the looming prospect that their sport might be cancelled for fear that the track is too dangerous. My thoughts go out to all the other atheltes, particularly the Georgians, who form such a tight knit community and must truly be mourning tonight, even as they are forced to smile on the biggest of stages. But most of all, my thoughts go out to Kumaritashvili’s family, who were in the process of seeing their son fulfill his dreams and now are experiencing the worst nightmare any parent could ever imagine.

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  1. Cuyler
    February 14, 2010 at 9:04 pm

    Nice post. It really is hard to wrap your mind around how horrible that accident was. What are your thoughts about the way the media replayed the images of his tragic death so extensively? Personally, I think they went completely overboard with it, well beyond the bounds of decency and good taste. I’ve written about that on my site: http://cuylercampbell.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/for-shame/

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