Not all of the Olympic champions will mount the medal podium during the next two weeks. In fact, one of the most iconic athletes of this era will retire without ever wearing gold. Michelle Kwan had to withdraw from the Olympics today because of a nagging injury. Her lifelong quest for an Olympic gold medal is over. Yet, her graceful exit from the Olympic scene is a remarkable example of the values and ideals the Olympics claim to manifest — teamwork, good sportsmanship, devotion to excellence in the sport. She felt she could not do her best, and so she conceded her coveted spot on the U.S. Figure Skating Team to Emily Hughes. She did not want to hurt the team on the outside chance that she could recover by next week and still skate competitively.
In this sports-saturated age, where winning the Super Bowl or Final Four is exalted above all meaning and reason, Michelle Kwan provides a refreshing dose of common sense. She certainly wanted to compete and win. But she took the wisdom of the Greek philosophy “Know Thyself” seriously. In walking away from the chance to win one more medal, she confirms her legacy as a real champion.
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