Mulligan Moments of 2016: Olympic Edition

The Rio Olympics, the biggest stage in sports, is also the first scene of this year’s top Mulligan Moments of 2016.

These are athletes who made their mulligan count when no one was watching– in the immense work and drive it took for them to earn their way to Rio.

The Olympic Refugee Team Composed of 10 athletes who had to flee their native countries because of war and political turmoil, they epitomized what can happen when you stay focused on competing and getting better, rather than dwelling on life’s injustices.   Leading the contingent was Tegla Loroupe,  a former world class runner from Kenya.  According to Ollie Williams of CNN, Loroupe’s foundation held tryouts in Kenya’s Kakuma camp, near the border with Uganda and South Sudan, where five Olympians were identified, all of whom had been at the refugee camp for between 10 and 15 years.   They included Yiech Pur Biel (800m), James Chiengjiek, who fled South Sudan to avoid becoming a child soldier (400m), Paulo Lokoro (1,500m), Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, who came to Kakuma at the age of six and began running at one of the refugee camp’s schools (1,500m), and Rose Lokonyen (800m).

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Paul Amotun Lokoro and Anjelina Nadai Lohalith, orginally from South Sudan, took a mulligan on their hardships and turned it into a ticket to Rio to compete in track and field. (Photo: IOC)

 

The other Olympic Mulligan Moments were brought to our attention by Antoinette Muller of Daily Maverick.

Zahra Nemati A former black belt taekwondo competitor who was paralyzed in a car accident in 2003. Three years later she decided to take up archery and not only won gold medals in the Paralympics, but qualified for the 2016 Summer Games, where she competed for Iran.

Chris Mears, was given a five percent chance to live in 2009 after he ruptured his spleen, lost five pints of blood and was told it was unlikely he would ever dive again. He would later suffer a seven hour seizure and a three day coma. What did he do with his mulligan at the 2016 Games?  Win a gold medal in men’s synchronized 3m springboard for Great Britain.

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Need a mulligan? Take a jillion. Or at least two, like US Womens’ Rugby Sevens hero Jillion Potter, who overcame a broken neck and cancer to make it to Rio.

Jillion Potter proved that one mulligan isn’t always enough. When she was just 19, Potter broke her neck playing rugby.  Seven years later, she was won her way onto the Rugby Sevens World Cup team, then discovered a growth under her jaw that proved to be a soft tissue cancer.  Her grit and love of the game fueled her recovery and she used her mulligan to earn a spot on the U.S. Rugy Sevens team in Rio.

William Fox-Pitt competed in four other Olympics prior to Rio as an equestrian rider for Great Britain.  But he needed his mulligan this year most of all.  Ten months prior to the Games, he lay in a coma after a mishap in a cross-country horse race.  He came back to not only win a spot on the 2016 team, but actually lead the competition after the dressage portion of his event.

You can find Muller’s entire article here, including more on the refugee team.

Mulligan Moments of the Year recognize the achievements (large and small), observations (grand and flippant) and contributions (tangible and ephemeral) of people, (famous, infamous, and unknown), that demonstrated the resolve, awareness, good intention and blind luck that occurs when you run like there’s no tomorrow and live like there’s no yesterday.  In short, someone who took a second chance and made it count.   Nominations are still being accepted via all my social media platforms, as follows:

I’m hiding in plain sight on:

Twitter

Instagram

Facebook Group

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