Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Lornah Kiplagat, Kenyan (now Dutch) long-distance runner (photo courtesy: PBS/Frontline)
The Olympics are on right now, much to my own delight. I love watching and getting into the Olympic spirit. I always get annoyed with the U.S media's obsession with their own athletes and how many medals they win, but atleast they show the Olympics! I remember being on assignment in South Asia during the 2006 winter olympics, and I was furious that I couldn't catch the opening ceremony. Ten channels were dedicated to cricket highlights (a most useless game, in my opinion), without a single allusion to the world's greatest sport show!
For me the greatest thing is seeing female athletes from developing countries. Women aren't encouraged to play sports or compete in many of these cultures. In fact, they are often discouraged. As I have been told many times myself, "what's the point of girls playing sports...they only get married and work in the kitchen! Sports are for boys only." I still don't get that logic...but whatever! If women end up becoming sports legends, its often because they did it on their own or with the help of a small (1-3 people) supportive group, against the wishes of a vast majority of the people around them. So even to be on a world stage, without medaling, is a HUGE deal! I wish more media stories captured these struggles and celebrated these women.
Back in 2004, PBS profiled one such amazing athlete, a Kenyan athlete by the name of Lornah. After competing successfully in a series of long distance events, she took her money back home to invest in developing the next generation of female Kenyan runners. Its a beautiful story! Watch it here (http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/kenya/)