Tue | Jan 23, 2018

Gordon Robinson | Citius, Altius, Fortius

Published:Tuesday | August 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Swimmer Timothy Wynter at the Games Village in Rio.
Alia Atkinson zips through the pool in the women's 100m breaststroke semi-final at Rio.
Gymnast Toni-Ann Williams executes a split in mid-air while competing at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad (right), of the United States, competes with Cecillia Berder, of France, in the women's sabre individual fencing event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Monday.

I apprehend that the Olympics' real meaning is lost forever.

Most Jamaicans don't believe the Olympics begins before track, and Usain Bolt's name dominates all conversations. There's also talk of drugs, Russia's ban, and convicted drug-cheating swimmer Yulia Efimova, who tested positive five times, being allowed to compete.

But none of these is why the Olympics is held every four years. The Olympics' guiding principle is: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games isn't to win, but to take part, just as the most important thing in life isn't the triumph, but the struggle. The essential thing isn't to have conquered, but to have fought well." So, the Olympics is really about Timothy Wynter, who skipped a year of high school to focus on bringing his times down to the qualifying standard, attended USC (California) for its renowned swimming programme, and, with discipline, commitment and hard work, qualified for the Olympics.

Timmy Wynter participated in the 100m backstroke, leading his heat for more than 50 metres and holding on resolutely for second. Because swimming is all about the clock, he wasn't permitted a second race despite a personal best time. Timmy Wynter is the Olympics.

To dream the impossible dream;

to fight the unbeatable foe;

to bear with unbearable sorrow;

to run where the brave dare not go.

The Olympics is all about Alia Atkinson who, by the time this is published, will know whether she achieved the elusive Olympic medal she so richly deserves, or if Efimova pushed her off the podium. My vote is for Alia to overcome all obstacles. The Olympic creed has been her life's glorious quest, and she has achieved more in a swimming pool than any Jamaican.

To right the unrightable wrong;

To love pure and chaste from afar;

To try when your arms are too weary;

To reach the unreachable star.

The Olympics is all about Toni-Ann Williams. Born in Maryland to Jamaican parents, she decided to represent Jamaica in her mission to be an Olympic gymnast. Toni-Ann sacrificed, cut her college course load, focused on nutrition and exercise, battled rheumatoid arthritis from age 14, but defied all odds and qualified for the Rio Olympics as a Jamaican.

In Rio, despite falling while mounting the balance beam, Toni-Ann, battling a bad knee, produced a magnificent effort for a 14.1 score. Afterwards, she said, "Today, I became the first Jamaican gymnast to compete at the Olympic Games. There are no words to describe the mix of emotions I'm feeling right now. I had some mistakes in my performances, but I'm happy I was able to show the kids of Jamaica that there isn't a barrier that can't be broken. I appreciate all of the love and support from the people and the country I love."

This is my quest

To follow that star

No matter how hopeless

No matter how far;

To fight for the right

Without question or pause;

To be willing to march into Hell

For a Heavenly cause.

The Olympics is all about Ibtihaj Muhammad, a Muslim American sabre fencer and the first Muslim woman wearing a hijab to qualify for a US Olympic team. Born in New Jersey to African-American parents, she began fencing in high school because her mother was looking for a sport she could play fully covered. She's #8 in the world in sabre fencing and she'll proudly represent USA in her hijab. Up yours, Donald Chump!

And I know

If I'll only be true

To this glorious quest,

That my heart

Will lie peaceful and calm

When I'm laid to my rest.

The Olympics is all about Keni Harrison, sixth in the US trials, who responded to disappointment on July 22 by clocking a new world-record 12.20 seconds in the women's 100m hurdles at the Diamond League meet in London. Keni won't compete in Rio, but she embodies the Olympic motto, 'Citius, Altius, Fortius', meaning 'Swifter, Higher, Stronger'.

And the world will be better for this

That one man, scorned and covered with scars,

Still strove with his last ounce of courage

To reach the unreachable star.

All the greats covered The Impossible Dream (music by Mitch Leigh, lyrics Joe Darion), including Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Tom Jones (superb; his interpretation reproduced here) and Luther Van Dross, but my favourite is by a man who couldn't sing a note but could make a piano walk and talk. Legendary showman Liberace made this song his own in live performances although he talked his way through it.

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.