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The Last Mile And Winning Olympic Gold

“The last mile is never crowded and that’s the way it does feel sometimes.

The difference is to be able to hold on in there, to keep it going.”

– Kellie Harrington

Over the weekend, the Olympics came to a close but not before a certain Dubliner, Kellie Harrington won a gold medal in the lightweight division of women’s boxing.

Kellie has worked tirelessly for years, with the singular ambition of getting to the top of her sport – and with scant resources when compared with many of the other athletes at the games.

Indeed I must admit to being turned off some of the better known international athletes when their reactions to not winning gold indicated a sense of entitlement and poor sportsmanship.

There are many things you can say about Harrington that are admirable but for me the thing that struck me was the manner in which she treated her opponents all the way through to the final – with the utmost respect and humility.

For example, last Thursday morning, tension was running high after a tight, cagey silver medal fight but as the verdict narrowly went her way, there was a gentle smile and a kiss of her glove but then it was straight over to her defeated opponent, who Kellie consoled before lifting her arm to the sky.

It was a genuine gesture from Harrington and it was yet another reminder of what a brilliant ambassador this woman is for Irish sport.

You get the sense that, even if she had lost Thursday morning’s fight against her Thai opponent, the Portland Row fighter would still be standing in the ring smiling, still taking it one moment at at time and still lifting her opponent’s arm to the sky.

The founder of the modern Olympics, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, once said:

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part;

the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well.”

In a games that has become increasingly commercial and all about big brands, it’s heart-warming to see a fighter like Kelli Harrington staying true to the values of it’s founder.

The last mile relates to us all.

It’s human to feel like giving up at times, on what’s important to us – to stop fighting. The difference is to be able to hold on in there.

Where in your life can you take that inspiration into?


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