Inspiring Stories of Olympic Athletes

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Brayden Rigby, Writer

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Athletes from around the world have unique and inspiring stories to tell about their journey through the Olympics. As millions watch these athletes, we are awed and inspired by the effort and purpose these athletes put forward. It is sad, however, that some of these amazing stories are forgotten or overlooked. Here are some of my favorite and inspiring stories of the Olympics–stories which should never be forgotten. These stories are bound to continue inspiring the world for many years to come.

Lopez Lomong

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Lopez Lomong is the definition of redemption. Despite militia soldiers kidnapping him when he was six years old and nearly dying in captivity, he escaped his homeland and came to the United States with his mother after he discovered she was alive. He competed in the 2008 Olympics running the 1500 meters (finishing in 5th place) and in 2012 he set a record for the 5k with 13 minutes and 11.63 seconds. During that time he joined of a group of athletes urging China to put pressure on the Sudanese government to address the war in Darfur (, 2012). Since then, he continues to compete, defy odds, and set personal records.

Marla Runyan

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For Marla Runyan, being legally blind is no excuse for not competing on the US Olympic Team in Track and Field. “Runyan was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease when she was a child. The disease is hereditary and weakens an individual’s ability to see. Completing school work was a challenge because there was no technology, like computers, to assist her with reading and writing” (, 2012). Despite her troubles, she competed in the 2000 and 2004 Olympics and is a US National Champion in the 5,000 meters (, 2012). She now inspires the world as a motivational speaker.

2008 4×100 Freestyle Relay

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“The Americans? We’re going to smash them. That’s what we came here for.” That’s what the French were favored to do that day in Beijing, and it was a long time coming. The USA 4 x 100 freestyle relay prepared for the crucial race, one that could possibly give Michael Phelps his eighth gold medal. Jason Lezak, the oldest member of the USA swimming team, anchored the relay. The race started with Australia in the lead. Then, during the second leg, USA lead the pack, and maintained the lead until the third leg, where France took the lead. It was looking bleak. France seemed to be a full body length ahead of USA by the fourth leg. During the final 50 meters of the race, Jason Lezak managed to inch closer and closer to France. It took everything Lezak had, but he was able to out-touch France by a few hundredths of a second. The US shattered their record and proved anything is possible (Olympic Channel).

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