The Reporters extend thumbs to four Olympic athletes Staff
8/19/2012 10:28:59 AM
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Each week, The Reporters put their thumbs out to the good and the bad in the world of sports. This week, they discuss Simon Whitfield's grace in defeat, the pride of Oscar Pistorius, the legacy of Melissa Tancredi and the joy of competing shown by Mo Farah.

Bruce Arthur, National Post: My thumb is up to Simon Whitfield, for showing us how to accept defeat. After four years of hard training, of family sacrifice, and of dreaming of one last big race, the 37-year-old Whitfield crashed his bike in his final Olympic triathlon. He knew, right then, that it was over. A six-year-old Irish girl on the side of the road began to cry, and what did Whitfield do? He limped over to comfort her, told her about his own little girls, and returned later with souvenirs. The London 2012 Olympic Games were full of bitter endings for Canadians. But faced with perhaps the toughest one of all, Simon Whitfield's first instinct was not self-pity. It was grace.

Steve Simmons, Sun Media: My thumb is up to Oscar Pistorius, the Blade Runner, who made his debut amidst controversy in the 400-metre event of London 2012. But once I saw him run, and once I heard him speak, whatever controversy there was about this double amputee from South Africa immediately disappeared. When he ran the track, he looked no different than anyone else: he looked like an athlete. And when he spoke to us in the mixed zone afterward, he did so with such pride and joy and spirit. He even apologized for being late because as he joked, he had to change his legs. Said Pistorius of the Olympic experience, "it's something I'll remember for the rest of my life". Seeing him, meeting him, I left London feeling exactly the same way.

Cathal Kelly, Toronto Star: My thumb is up to Melissa Tancredi. While Christine Sinclair was the star of the women's soccer team, Tancredi was its elbows-up engine. I will remember how she planted one foot on the bottom step of the team bus after being cheated out of her chance for gold, but could not bring herself to leave without talking. Tancredi always had her say. She may be the most physical player in world soccer - men's or women's. She was easily one of the classiest and most engaging. Without making a deal of it, she effectively retired after the Olympics. She's 30 years old. She wants to complete her qualifications as a chiropractor. She says she may return, but... She should be remembered alongside the Howes and Messiers and Clarkes as one of the great sporting warriors this country has ever produced. She didn't ask for testimonials, but she deserves that at least.

Dave Hodge, TSN: My thumb is up to the Olympian who best expressed the joy of competing and winning, and in his case, competing and winning the best way possible -- at an Olympic Stadium packed with his cheering countrymen. And they couldn't have been louder or prouder than they were when distance runner Mo Farah delivered them two gold medals. What a moment it must have been when he won the 10,000-metre event, and his reaction at the finish line said it better than words. And then Mo did it again at the shorter distance of 5,000 metres, and it looked as though he was able to enjoy that even more. If London 2012 needed a face, there was none better than Mo Farah's face.

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