June 21, 2011

Never Give In

On Thursday, June 9, Nancy and I drove to Cortland, New York where I was registered to participate in the 2011 Empire State Senior Games with 1100 other contestants. For the first time in sixty-one years, I planned to compete in the high jump, only this time it would be with men over eighty rather than teenagers.

Watching men and women in their sixties, seventies, eighties and nineties compete against others in their age group in events like the dashes and distance races was quite the inspirational experience. Though some struggled to finish their races, we saw no one quit.

Despite advanced age and declining health, Senior Games participants are people who refuse to quit being active. One of the most inspirational contestants we met was ninety-six years old who ran in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races.

Don Learman’s story was also inspirational. Despite a heart attack a year ago which resulted in four by passes, four valve replacements, a couple of stents and a pacemaker, Don picked up a silver medal in the 100 meter dash and high jump for contestants in the eighty to eighty-four age group. I was awarded a bronze medal in that age group for a jump of 3 feet-2 inches.

Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of England during World War II, made many inspirational speaches leading his country to victory against Hitler’s armed forces. The quote below is my favorite. It is from a short speech at Harrow School on October 29, 1941 when the mood in Britain regarding the outcome of the war had become increasingly determined and optimistic.

"Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never--in nothing, great or small, large or petty--never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."

One more inspirational story. You will find it in this uTube video of Derek Redmond finishing the 400 meter race in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5dgJwEvhrA