olympic winners

“Muhammad Ali was The Greatest. Period. If you just asked him, he’d tell you. He’d tell you he was the double greatest; that he’d ‘handcuffed lightning, thrown thunder into jail.’

But what made The Champ the greatest—what truly separated him from everyone else—is that everyone else would tell you pretty much the same thing.

Like everyone else on the planet, Michelle and I mourn his passing. But we’re also grateful to God for how fortunate we are to have known him, if just for a while; for how fortunate we all are that The Greatest chose to grace our time.

In my private study, just off the Oval Office, I keep a pair of his gloves on display, just under that iconic photograph of him—the young champ, just 22 years old, roaring like a lion over a fallen Sonny Liston. I was too young when it was taken to understand who he was—still Cassius Clay, already an Olympic Gold Medal winner, yet to set out on a spiritual journey that would lead him to his Muslim faith, exile him at the peak of his power, and set the stage for his return to greatness with a name as familiar to the downtrodden in the slums of Southeast Asia and the villages of Africa as it was to cheering crowds in Madison Square Garden.

'I am America,’ he once declared. 'I am the part you won’t recognize. But get used to me—black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own. Get used to me.’

That’s the Ali I came to know as I came of age—not just as skilled a poet on the mic as he was a fighter in the ring, but a man who fought for what was right. A man who fought for us. He stood with King and Mandela; stood up when it was hard; spoke out when others wouldn’t. His fight outside the ring would cost him his title and his public standing. It would earn him enemies on the left and the right, make him reviled, and nearly send him to jail. But Ali stood his ground. And his victory helped us get used to the America we recognize today.

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes—maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

Muhammad Ali shook up the world. And the world is better for it. We are all better for it. Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to his family, and we pray that the greatest fighter of them all finally rests in peace.” —President Obama

Men fly
As trees shy
From over taking
Their lead snaking
Around rivers that twist
Wide so racers risk
Both wheels dancing
Over pavements lancing
Toughened hands that lead
The bodies to feed
On a wild victory once feigned
Now In the heart forever retained

Bit.ly/energypoetry

youtube.com
羽生結弦 Yuzuru Hanyu 2014 worlds ex
An extremely moving and powerful performance (with a little bit of a long explanation by me below!)

The Significance of Yuzuru Hanyu’s 2014 Worlds Exhibition

During the 2013-14 season, Yuzuru won the triple crown of GPF, Olympics, and World Championships- a pretty big deal.  For his exhibition skate at Worlds 2014, he performed Romeo and Juliet, his free skate from the 2011-2012 season.  He could have chosen any exhibition at all or even had a new one choreographed, but he chose this one.  Here’s what I make of this decision of his…

Case 1: The 2011 Japan Earthquake

As we all know, this program, Romeo and Juliet (ver. 1) was created in the time span shortly after the 2011 Japan Earthquake, a disaster which greatly impacted Yuzuru.  The 16-year-old Yuzuru was training when the earthquake hit Sendai, and had to run out of the rink with his skating boots still on, damaging them in the process.  Afterwards, he and his family stayed in an evacuation centre in a local school for some days.  Their home, along with many others’, had been completely destroyed.  The Sendai ice rink was damaged and closed down.  Many people lost their lives. Yuzuru was extremely conflicted during this time, as he felt that he couldn’t and shouldn’t continue to skate when the other people of Japan were suffering so greatly.  He wished to help in some way that felt more substantial than figure skating, which he thought to be rather selfish.  However, he was able to get back on his feet, and spent the summer following the earthquake skating in ice shows, as these ice shows were the best way for him to get practice time without a rink at home to train in.  Many of the proceeds for the ice shows went to earthquake relief, and Yuzuru’s (and other Japanese skaters’) amazing performances were events of hope and light in a dark time.  Romeo and Juliet (ver. 1) was the very program that he skated during this time.

Case 2: 2012 World Championships

Romeo and Juliet also holds heavy significance in that it was the free skate that earned Yuzuru a bronze medal at the 2012 World Championships.  This was his first ever Worlds title.  It was performance that moved the audience (and himself, and his coach at that time, Nanami Abe) to tears.  Just 17 years old at the time, he proved himself to be a captivating performer who gave the performance his all, and a brilliant jumper on top of that.  Bronze at 2012 Worlds was the title that earned him more fans, recognition, and prestige than ever before.  

The bronze medal came little over a year after the earthquake, so the disaster was prevalent in Yuzuru’s mind when he won it.  By not giving up on his skating and on his dreams, he was able to achieve great results.  He earned this rank through working hard and overcoming complicated and painful emotions he had about the earthquake, proving his mental, physical, and emotional strength to be of unimaginable calibre.  Of course, the scars that the earthquake left would never completely disappear, but Yuzuru had started to learn to overcome his fears, doubts, and pain.

Two Years Later… GPF, Olympic, and Worlds Champion

Now, flash forward two years from Worlds 2012 and that bronze medal, and Yuzuru Hanyu is a big name in figure skating.  He’s no longer the young 17-year-old beginning to capture the hearts of figure skating fans, but rather the reigning champion of the Grand Prix Final, the Olympics, and the World Championships.  The spotlight is his, the gold medal is his, and the times are his.

The importance of the Romeo and Juliet program had been further proved by Yuzuru’s choice for his free skate in the Olympic season of 2013-14.  For that season, he chose music from Romeo and Juliet once again, making a connection back to the eventful and evolutionary season of 2011-12.  By choosing the same theme for the Olympic season free skate as the 2011-12 one, Yuzuru was, in a way, giving a solute to all that had happened.  He wanted to show the world that, in his essence, he was still the same boy from Sendai, Japan, which had been hit with a terrible earthquake that people are still affected by to this day.  He wanted to make a tribute to his country, which supported him despite its troubles.  By making this connection to his past, he ensured that the crisis Japan was enduring would not be overlooked, and that he would always remain humble and thankful to what and who had made his Olympic dream possible.

That was the message he carried throughout the Olympic season, and then what does he choose to do for his Worlds exhibition, the last performance of the season?  What does he choose to close off this unforgettable season with?

His 2011-12 Romeo and Juliet free skate.  

I mean, what else could it possible have been?  This was one of the most vital and defining programs of his career.  This was the free skate that earned him third place at Worlds at the young age of 17.  This was the last free skate that he ever did with his long-time coach Nanami Abe; the last free skate he ever learned before saying goodbye to all he’d ever known to fly halfway across the world to train in Canada.  This was the free skate that captivated the hearts of viewers everywhere and made us all fall in love with the young, passionate talent that was Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan.

And perhaps most importantly, this was the program that was made when Yuzuru- and all of Japan- was going through an incredibly difficult time.  The earthquake understandably left Yuzuru reeling with shock, grief, and turmoil.  He said himself that after the earthquake, he seriously thought that he would never skate again.  

But he did.  A true champions knows that falling is inevitable, and it’s how many times you get back that makes you the real winner.  Yuzuru Hanyu got back up, time and time again, and just look where he ended up.

Triple crown winner (GPF, Olympics, and Worlds), one of the youngest Olympic champions in figure skating ever, and the first ever Japanese man to win Olympic gold in men’s singles figure skating.  

A man for the history books.  One of the all-time greats of figure skating.  A pride of his nation.  A priceless gift to the sport.  A privilege to watch, and a shining star to all those whose hearts he as touched.

Romeo and Juliet 1 was a program forged through pain, and ultimately made all the more a triumph because of it.   Yuzuru has said that he “wants to give the kind of performances that stay in people’s hearts”, and this definitely was one.  The performance of it at Worlds 2012 was breathtaking, certainly, full of emotion and passion enough to bring a stadium to its feet.  

But watching him doing it again two years later as the exhibition is all the more gratifying because you can clearly see just how much he had evolved and improved. His artistry, musicality, and technicality had greatly advanced- and all the while, he didn’t lose one single bit of that passion and charisma he held as a 17-year-old.  One of Yuzuru’s biggest goals is to never stop evolving, never stop trying to beat the records that he himself has set, and this exhibition was truly a testament to all of his hard work.

A True Champion Knows He Does Not Stand Alone

Yuzuru has also cited this mantra as one of his inspirations: “Don’t forget the beginner’s mind”.  Because of this belief, he is always working hard and striving to do better, and is well-known for always being down to earth, gracious, and grateful.  Using this program at the 2014 Worlds Exhibition was a culmination of all these traits we always see from him; it was a beautiful, powerful tribute to his roots.  

After achieving all the greatness of the 2013-14 season, Yuzuru didn’t forget what got him there.  If anything, his success humbled him.  It made him realize how far he had come and who he had to thank for guiding him to the spot in the middle of the podium where he stood.  As he won the GPF gold, the Olympic gold, and the World Championships gold, he did not stand alone on that podium- and he knew this better than anyone.  This exhibition was a performance dedicated to the people who have supported him since day one; to his family, coaches, fans, friends, and rivals; to everyone who had seen something in that 17-year-old bronze medalist in Nice that made them root for him; to his country, which recovered slowly and painfully from a crippling disaster yet still remained a place in which a young man could find his own path.

What a path is has been.  

A Name For the History Books

Yuzuru Hanyu is an inspiration, through and through, not only because of the spectacular 2013-14 season that he ended with this skate, but also because of everything ever since.  Many a lesser man would have called it quits after Olympic gold, thinking he’d already peaked- but Yuzuru believed he could do more, and he did.

The world records, the medals, the titles, the wonderful and unforgettable performances- Yuzuru Hanyu has done more than enough to establish himself as a key figure in the history of figure skating.  He is one who will be cited as a great inspiration for many generations to come; as one who pushed himself to push the sport.  He is not only a symbol of triumph and pride for his home country of Japan, but for the entire world, a shining beacon for the strength and skill of mankind as a whole.  He will eternally be known as one of the greatest figure skaters to have ever lived.  A success story to be told for years to come.  A legend.

Yuzuru Hanyu- don’t forget that name.  That’s a name for the history books.

And Now…

All this, and his story isn’t even over yet.  He said on many occasions that that winning Olympic gold was just the beginning- and we all know that when Yuzuru sets his mind to something, he is unstoppable.  We, the people who stand behind him to this day, have seen what he has accomplished since the Olympics, and know that he still has so much more to offer.  

We honour you for your hard work Yuzuru, from day one to now and into the future; we will continue to support you and give you the respect and strength you deserve.  And we eagerly await to see what all of us know you can and will deliver.  Ganbatte!!

In honour of Worlds 2017 coming up in about a month- which will be the 3 year anniversary of this exhibition and 5 year anniversary of the free skate it once was- here is Yuzuru Hanyu’s 2013-2014 World Championships Exhibition.  I hope you enjoy!

2

What the fuck guys??? I have never been embarrassed to be in a fandom ever but this. This is ridiculous. It is disrespectful. Changing the music of his programs to satisfy yourself was borderline disrespect but this is the cream of the crop. How is this acceptable? I get that it’s for shits and giggles but this is taking it way too far.

There is nothing similar between Yuuri and Yuzuru other than they are Japanese, wear glasses, have black hair, are figure skaters, look up to a Russian skater.

Yuzuru has less than 5% body fat and he doesn’t get fat. Ever. His career is similar to Victor’s rather than Yuuri’s. He is 2014 Olympic gold medalist, winner of the Grand Prix Final 4 times in a row which no one has ever done before, he is a former world champion and was the silver medalist twice, and the bronze medalist the first time he competed in the world championships. He is currently ranked no 1 in the world. He has set at least 10 world records. He is the first person to ever land a Quad Loop in competition. He has never gotten fat, he has never had a sixth place finish in the GPF, he doesn’t have a dog, he’s not shy, in fact he’s a little shit that often does the opposite of what his coach recommends. He likes dancing to music and has an obsession with headphones. He also has never had a slump in his career. Ever.

His coach is Brian Orser, two time Olympic silver medalist in the 80s and a man so good at doing Triple Axels he was dubbed ‘Mr Triple Axel’ by the skating community. He has coached Yuna Kim to Olympic gold in 2010, Javier Fernandez to World Champion twice, of course Yuzuru and all his accomplishments. Tracey Wilson is a triple bronze world champion in ice dance, and is also a bronze medalist in the Olympics. She is co-coaching with Orser in the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

The fact that you have replaced the name of such respected figures in the skating community with a fictional skater worsens the situation by 1000%.

This has to stop. Replacing identity and coach of an athlete to something that is fictional??? What a ridiculous and disrespectful fandom we have here.

Edit: I have just received a message from Anon about this topic. Click the link below if you would like to know what some of the worst messages you guys have left on this post and my opinion on them. http://bismarckenterprise.tumblr.com/post/156281787617/you-know-what-else-sucks-about-your-post-on-the

Hi.

Using Mo Farah or Steve Jobs as references to why we should welcome refugees and immigrants is bullshit. We don’t need to be exceptional tech billionaires or an Olympic multi gold winner for our humanity to be respected. Most of us wouldn’t be fleeing our homes if colonization and war hadn’t destroyed them.

Bye.

credit/source: Riya Jama

2

i want them to skate pairs, please

Who’s seen Rio’s medal holding figurines/trophies?

They are absolute genius pieces of design, and the general public is trashing them.

-They incorporate three olympic sports: volleyball, soccer, and rowing
-They have Brazil’s flag colors
-They spell out Rio
-They are built to hold the medals
-They are shaped to fit the Sugarloaf Mountains (see above)
-They are meant to represent the welcoming spirit of Brazil and the Olympic Spirit

And people are calling them trinkets, paperweights, shitty ornaments, and tatty souvenirs. Dozens of people have been saying that they can’t imagine people taking them home, but these are specifically designed to last because olympic medal winners kept throwing their bouquets away.
The amount of disrespect and disregard for the work put into these is absolutely disgusting.

To whoever made these trophies: thank you, they are amazing.