Goucher’s Olympics run makes all of Duluth proudFive a.m. is early, very early. But I’m certain that TVs and DVRs across the Northland were already heated up at that hour this past Sunday when Duluth native Kara Goucher attempted to fulfill her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion.
Five a.m. is early, very early. But I’m certain that TVs and DVRs across the Northland were already heated up at that hour this past Sunday when Duluth native Kara Goucher attempted to fulfill her dreams of becoming an Olympic champion.
Anticipation around Goucher’s attempt for gold has been abuzz in the Northland since she first qualified for the 2012 games. Building that up even more was her first-place finish in the Garry Bjorkland Half Marathon on June 16 — her first race back in Duluth since her youth.
I saw it firsthand. My eyes were glued on Goucher as she ran past near the eight-mile mark back then, and they were again watching her on TV on Sunday. It’s not every day you get to see someone from your hometown compete against the best distance runners in the world.
Although back and leg cramps held her back, she still finished 11th overall and with a time of 2 hours, 26 minutes and 7 seconds; exactly 3 minutes behind winner Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia. Not too shabby, considering you’re racing the best of the best.
As Goucher finish the race, she hardly looked winded or pained. She helped U.S. teammate Shalane Flanagan — one place ahead, and who did look in pain — to her feet, looking proud of her accomplishment.
The inspiration of all Olympic athletes during a two-week period every four years is something that can’t be matched. Each time the Games happen, they inspire an entire country to join together. They give us all a chance to be part of something bigger than ourselves.
I recently asked my Facebook friends what makes the Olympics worth watching and wasn’t surprised by the answers
“Seeing people excel at things they are not paid $20 million a year to do. These people actually do it for the love of the sport,” said one.
Another said she likes the stories that go with the athletes and how it “makes you believe in people.”
And another stated that she watches because of the sense of unity it brings to our country.
“It gives one team for all Americans to cheer for, team USA.”
People often scoff when using the word “hero” when it comes to athletes.
I used to think that too.
But the Olympics reminds us there really are people who inspire others to be better. If watching the Olympics
and seeing our athletes inspires you to get off the couch and start swimming or running and better yourself, then in fact, they are heroes.
And Kara Goucher is a local hero. Medal or not. Duluth is proud of her and all that she’s accomplished. We’re lucky to have her, to be reminded of what the spirit of a champion and hero really is.
Duluthian Sarah Packingham writes about sports for the Budgeteer. Contact her at email@example.com.