Olympic Winners

<img src="" align="right" alt="Sarah Hughes" border="0" hspace="7">The ladies' figure-skating event is finally over, and what a surprise it has turned out to be. As America held its collected breath for favourite ice-daughter Michelle Kwan to fulfill her destiny, history repeated itself. In 1998, Nagano Japan, Michelle's dreams of Olympic gold were dashed by a very young and spritely Tara Lipinski. Now four years later, her quest for gold is again thwarted by American teenager Sarah Hughes.
Honestly, I am happy that Sarah Hughes won. She skated with such reckless abandon that she brought her audience back to days of childhood innocence. As she spins on the ice, we too remember ourselves turning round and round, and revelling in the surreal sensation it brought. She encapsulated the thrill and joy that is so lacking in our sports today. It is neither the money nor the fame that drew out Sarah's best tonight, but the sheer exhilaration of being able to skate, just as a child first learns how to walk. She giggles and squeals at the news of her winning the gold medal, and we cannot help but squeal with her.
Yet we cannot forget the pain Michelle is going through. Granted that silver medallist Irina Slutskaya also had the gold medal within her grasp, there is little doubt that Michelle was dealt the hardest blow. Her story will probably go down in trivia cards as the answer to the question "who was the winningest world champion figure-skater never to win an Olympic gold?". It would be easy to dismiss her as a failure, never accomplishing her task of bringing home the gold.
<img src="" align="left" border="0" alt="Michelle Kwan" hspace="7">We would be shallow, insensitive and shortsighted to join the multitudes who will no doubt do exactly that. Let us not forget the many wonderful memories Michelle has given to us over the years – the best years of her youth. Her performances, like that of many others, were not put up to bring her fame and glory. Her talent on ice gave her the power to reach out to the common person, and whisk them away to a world where music and movement flowed together, and where men and women seem to glide, feet barely touching ground. She captivated us all, two minutes, four minutes at a time. She gave us a way to escape our own harsh realities. To laugh at her in her time of sadness would be utterly ungrateful.
Dearest Michelle, we wipe away your tears and whisper to you that you have already won the true prize that lies beyond that found in any competition. You have won our hearts, not only by the way you have skated all these years, but more importantly by the manner in which you've taken your losses with such grace and dignity. There were no losers tonight, there never were. If you would think yourself as such the only loser would have been us, for we would have lost a valuable transport who has unfailingly taken us to a world where we could lose ourselves.
Stay true. Always.
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