Edwin Moses: An Olympic message
I have two very strong impressions that I am reminded of as I sit in my home watching the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. My first impression is just the sheer beauty and magnificence of all the colors, representing the national garb and flags of the 204 countries and territories, in Beijing.
Tell me, really: Have you even heard of them all? Be truthful now. Chances are that nearly all of us heard Friday night of a country or territory that we didn't know existed. That we are now aware of some of these foreign places, however so slightly (those that would easily be the toughest questions on anyone’s geography exam), in my humble experience, helps to make the world a better place to live.
At a minimum, the Chinese people and all of humanity have put our best feet forward.
And that brings me to my second impression. Without a doubt, there is absolutely no other event on the planet that has so much meaning and can have such an enormous effect on so many people. These are the elite, a group of people so dedicated. Though they are quite young now, they will be the future leaders of the world. Not just in sports but in education, banking, medicine, public service, broadcasting, politics, law, science, farming, research, you just name it, and there are leaders available left, right and center.
As a three-time participant in the Olympic Games -- '76, '84 and 1988 (and every opening ceremony that I could get my body into) -- I personally experienced what I can only hope to describe to you in this article. Believe me when I tell you this: My life would never be the same again. The force was with me and has been ever since my first ceremony in the Montreal Olympics in 1976. Little did I expect that I would be a gold medalist just six months after my first international competition.
The Olympics are absolutely the most energizing and fantastic event held on planet Earth. If there is something else you can think of, then please let me know. I am chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy, which has a membership of some of the greatest Olympians ever. We are led by the following motto that was taken from a speech by former President Nelson Mandela of South Africa:
"Sport has the power to change the world, it can give hope were there once was despair."
As I continue to write my impressions during the Games, I promise to my readers that I'll do one and only one thing: I'll call it the way I see it. Thanks for reading.
-- Edwin Moses
Photo: The Olympic flag with the National Stadium in the background and the Olympic flame. Credit: Mark D. Baker / Associated Press