“but I was proud to be with the Israeli delegation, especially to show the Germans, here – you tried to extinguish us, destroy us, but we are here and we can compete and stand with all the other nations. I was filled with pride.” – Shaul Ladany
As you know the Olympics are right around the corner! It is always so exciting to watch the nations compete. Especially since COR has worked with 5 Olympians from 3 countries! One thing we have learned from our Olympians is that quitters don’t win! I recently read an article about an Olympian. Not an Olympian going to Rio, but a man who played decades ago against the odds. Shaul Ladany was a race walker in the 1972 Olympics which was held in Germany, the same country where he was imprisoned in a concentration camp 30 years earlier. Ladany walks forward in life after all the atrocities he witnessed and experienced by becoming an Israeli citizen and going into race walking. Two days after competing in the 1972 Olympics there was a terrorist attack against his fellow Countrymen. The terrorist broke into the building where the Israeli delegation was staying in Germany. Six Israeli coaches and five Israeli athletes were killed. Ladany finished the Olympics without coming close to receiving a medal for the 50 km. With the race walking World Championships around the corner, Ladany was discouraged from going because of the danger. Despite the risks to his safety Ladany traveled to Switzerland in November 1972 and won the world championship for the 100 km! Neither Nazi’s nor terrorists could stop him!
We all love those stories don’t we? We love seeing the underdog flourish. But this story has hit me extra hard. It gives me chills and brings tears to my eyes to think someone endured so much his whole life. Do we not weep when we hear someone is in captivity? Isn’t that hardship enough? The context of the story is all too common in our history and world today. I just love his perseverance. How many times can you scar a person to defeat? For him, there is no number. He will keep on walking. There is so much more to the story that deserves to be told. Please take the time to read the rest of this mans life.
This Olympics we have a group of 10 athletes who are refugees from South Sudan, Syria, Congo, and Ethiopia. They will compete in Rio under the Olympic flag. They too will be a story like Shaul Ladany that reminds us to not be defeated from the worst life brings. One refugee states, “I hope you’re going to learn from our story: That you have to move on, because life will never stop for your problems.”
Whatever it is that is trying to defeat you, don’t let it. The word resilience comes to mind when I think of these stories. These individuals have most likely experienced more than most of us will ever have to. Understandably many people are defeated mentally, physically, and spiritually because of the hate in the world. I think it is so much easier to give up on life and not try to move forward. Quitting is tempting when our enemies won’t stop. But I think Shaul Ladany and these young athletes show us that quitting lets the enemy win. Finding healthy outlets for our emotions like sports is winning. So get up and keep walking.