Olympic comeback stories: what is your favourite?
To me, it is the athlete that has made a comeback and achieves, who is the one that should be honoured more than any other.
And when I say comeback I don’t mean the kind made by a few boxers and more recently, a few swimmers. The reasons range from boredom, financial pressure or just relevance deprivation. I don’t mean those in this category.
I mean those who have overcome injury, illness and life’s great adversities to be competitive again.
Some of these athletes may never win again but just to take part for some is just mind blowing for the odds they have overcome. Perhaps the most recent and also most controversial is seven time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.
The jury is still out on the legitimacies of those wins, but just the fact he beat cancer and was back competing is the achievement.
The London Olympics is littered with those kinds of stories and they are just so inspiring and heart warming.
Whether you believe Oscar Pistorius should be competing against the able bodies or not his ability to overcome not being born with bones in his lower legs, to be a competitive athlete, is amazing.
A sports psychologist once said to me “everyone suffers to some level and at some point so don’t think you are anything special”. This was following my own diagnosis with Rheumatoid Arthritis when I was told I would never run again, play tennis and may even struggle to walk.
“You can either lay down and sulk or manage it and return at some level,” it seemed a long way off as I was only managing to walk with the aid a of a frame at the time.
It was the Lance Armstrong like stories that made me determined to prove the doctors wrong.
But my favourite of all has to be Cuban, Anna Quirot.
The Barcelona Olympic 800 metres bronze medallist suffered horrendous burns in 1993 while washing clothes in a kerosene driven washer.
The kerosene spilled on to her body and then ignited. So badly burned and so close to death was she, that the doctors induced her labour in an attempt to at least save the baby she was carrying.
Her partner at the time was world record high jumper, Javier Sotomayor. Unfortunately, the baby did not survive and but after a month in intensive care Quirot herself beat the odds and slowly recovered.
She returned to running as just part of her mental and physical recovery. Her once beautiful body and face was now horribly scarred and it became a stark reminder to what she had overcome every time she stepped onto the track.
In 1995 one of the greatest comebacks in history was completed. Quirot won the 800 metres world title in Gothenburg.
The tears that flooded down her face when she received the Olympic silver in Atlanta behind Russian Svetlana Masterkova, spoke volumes of the pain she had endured.
But she was not finished yet.
Quirot defended her world title in 1997 in Athens defeating the great rival Maria Mutola.
I am sure everyone has their own comeback inspiration story. Anna Quirot’s is mine.