Rick Zamperin: Medals are amazing but the journey makes a true champion
What makes the Olympics, the Olympics?
Sure, the quest for gold, silver and bronze medals is always going to be the biggest lure for athletes, coaches and us sports fans.
Watching an athlete win their event, reach the podium or achieve a personal best is always special.
But, for me at least, learning about how some of these athletes achieved success after being at — or near — rock bottom is the icing on the cake.
Snowboard stars Mark McMorris and Laurie Blouin, hockey player Wojtek Wolski, and moguls skier Philippe Marquis are perfect examples.
McMorris suffered a near-fatal crash last March while snowboarding in the B.C. backcountry but won the bronze in men’s slopestyle.
Blouin, sporting a black eye after a crash in training just a few days ago, took the silver medal in a wind-whipped final of the women’s slopestyle.
In October 2016, Wolski was stretchered off the ice after suffering two fractured vertebrae during a game in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Over the weekend, he scored a goal in Canada’s 4-1 win over Sweden in a pre-Olympic hockey exhibition game.
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Unfortunately, I have torned my right ACL in the bumps on monday at the Deer Valley World Cup. It is devasting news and it comes at a very unfortunate time with the Olympics weeks away. I’m a fighter and therefore have decided to fight until the end with my @freestylecanadaski family. I have already started rehabing and will put my heart and soul into this process to represent my country in Korea! Thanks for all your support! 🇨🇦🙏🏼🇰🇷 #BackRoadToTheOlympicGames #WrongWayToTheOlympicGames
And Marquis suffered a torn ACL in his right knee a month before the Pyeongchang Games but was still named to Team Canada and was basically skiing on one leg when he crashed in the opening round.
The medals are amazing, but it’s the journey that makes a true champion.