Daley Thompson was for a long time my hero when he won the Decathlon Gold Medal in Moscow. I had saved up my money to attend the games having watched every televised moment of the Montreal Olympics, and drawn pictures of each event. And he wasn’t alone. It was a good year for the British; Coe and Ovett brought home the Gold in 800m & 1500m, our fabulous flying Scotsman Alan Wells won the 100 metres, and Steven Redgrave began his 20 years domination of the rowing. But the Olympic spirit is about so much more then winning. The Jamaican bobsleighers celebrated performance in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary was an unlikely story but certainly embraced the team spirit.
And there was Eric the Eel’s (Eric Moussambani Malonga) valiant performance in the Sydney Olympics, where his time was twice that of his fastest competitor, but he won our hearts and set a new personal best and Equatoguinean national record. That’s the point of taking part and what makes the Olympics, despite the controversies and commercialisation, a fantastic, exciting and heart warming event. So does Cathy Freeman’s celebration of winning the 400m in Sydney, where she waved both the Australian and the Aborigine flag, acknowledging their joint history.
But Wilma Rudolph gets my Divine nomination. She was the 20th of 22 children born in Clarksville, Tennesse. She had a leg brace until she was nine and they said she would never walk properly. But against those odds she went on the shine in Rome, winning three Gold medals in the 1960 Olympics 100 metres, 200 metres and 100 metre relay. When she returned to her home town which was still segregated, she insisted that the civil reception was mixed otherwise she wouldn’t attend. Her story seems still untold, but it is the story of how change happens through the determination of spirited individuals who collectively make a difference. That is how Divine is here today, and how the farmers who grow the cocoa have finally been acknowledged and got a place at the table. Let us know who your Divine Olymipan is - either post it here on our blog - or on Facebook.