The Olympic moment we’ve all been waiting for

As much as we love the Olympic athletes who are so skilled that they dominate their respective sport — Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, the U.S. men’s basketball team  — we also crave something else during these Games that go beyond the competition.

We crave that Olympic moment.

Yes, the quadrennial games are meant to be a fierce competition. And yes, for some countrymen and women, there is a personal expectation for them to honorably and successfully represent their country. Case and point: an Egyptian was ejected from the Rio games after he refused to shake hands with his Israeli opponent following a Judo match.

But underlying the competitiveness is a spirit of sportsmanship. Of unity and bonding. Of determination and personal spirit. Sure, we’re all from different countries, but this is an opportunity to show the world that we can all get along.

Sometimes, it takes sport to show that.

D'Agostino Hamblin2

There’s a reason why the story of Derek Redmond is emblazoned in our brains. During the 400-meter semifinal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, he tore his hamstring and collapsed to one knee in pain.

Even while medics ran to attend to him, he leaped up and essentially skipped along the track on his one able leg to continue the race, even though all the other sprinters had already finished. If that wasn’t inspirational enough, his father emerged from out of no where to help his son, who at this point was bawling in tears, to finish the race.

Had Derek Redmond won that race in routine fashion, no one would remember him. But because of the unique circumstances of his last-place finish (in fact, he was disqualified because he received outside aid) he will never be forgotten.

Well, it wasn’t quite Redmondesque, but we had a similar moment on Tuesday during the women’s 500-meter race.

With two kilometers remaining (about 1.25 miles), Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand accidentally tripped one another up and fell hard to D'Agostino Hamblinthe ground.

At that point, their fate was sealed. Neither would win.

D’Agostino got back up first. Hamblin remained on the ground, distraught.

But the American urged her on. “Get up. We have to finish this,” she told her. Hamblin got to her feet, and the women ran together before D’Agostino collapsed. Hamblin tried to return the favor and help her up, but it was obvious that D’Agostino was seriously hurt.

Hamblin continued on, and somehow, D’Agostino also finished despite tearing her ACL. But who was waiting to give her a hug at the finish line? Hamblin.

The story has captured the hearts of people across the world. The two young women did not know each other before the race. But now their day-old friendship is the embodiment of the Olympic spirit.

The Olympics really couldn’t have come at a better time. For the last week and a half, I’ve barely uttered the name Dona —

You know what. I’m not going to do it.

Anyway, since the fall happened in the heats, the two women amazingly would have both been able to race in the event’s medal round on Friday despite their poor finish times. D’Agostino is obviously unable to.

Hamblin, however, will race for the both of them.

Here’s another video of what happened overlayed with uplifting piano music.

Because let’s face it, everything is more uplifting when it’s overlayed with piano music.

Bullying is where I absolutely draw the line

It’s one thing to be bullied in a smaller setting, like in your school or community. It’s another thing entirely to be ridiculed on live television for the world to see.

That’s exactly what happened on the X Factor New Zealand earlier this week, in a disgusting example of how celebrities can abuse their position as a wielder of judgment on a reality singing show.

My vitriol on this topic may lead many to believe that I was personally bullied. But that’s not the case. I was not a target for bullies in high school. And I don’t even mean to say that with any type of pride.

I was social enough in high school that I knew most of the “popular” people, and yet I was also withdrawn to an extent that I was friendly with the people who would have been considered “unpopular.” I was somewhere in the X Factor judgesmiddle, and therefore, simply wasn’t interesting enough to be bullied.

That being said, there was one week, when, because of random circumstance, I got on a bully’s radar. I became his “flavor of the week,” so to speak. And while I wouldn’t quite call it traumatic, I do recall how afraid I was to go to school each day that week. I was scared to turn every corner, worrying he’d be there. It’s a feeling I can’t imagine bullying victims having to experience every day.

It’s not so much the fear of getting beaten up physically. It’s the psychological torment of bullying that does the most damage to the human psyche. It’s being humiliated in public, in front of your peers, and having them laugh along that hurts the most.

Social media has evolved bullying, in both good ways and bad ways. For one, it’s created more transparency. It’s also an outlet. If you’re being picked on, then you can voice your grief online, and give people the opportunity to show you their support.

On the other hand, it’s created cyber-bullying, where you can be mocked online, in a public format for everyone to see, and in a way it’s the same as being bullied in a crowded classroom. The worst part is there’s no escaping it. Before social media, victims of bullying at least had the safety and comfort of going home after school. Now, that security no longer exists, and continues the bullying after school hours.

It’s such a frustrating thing because it’s so avoidable. Bullies don’t realize the power of their words, and just how much they are hurting people. And that’s a shame.

But for a moment, forget being bullied in a classroom, or online, and imagine getting harassed on live television. OnJoe Irvine March 15, a 25-year-old contestant on X Factor New Zealand named Joseph Irvine performed a song recorded by one of the judges, Willy Moon, and even tried mimicking his look. The results were not appreciated by another judge, Natalia Kills, who happens to be Moon’s wife.

Here’s a condensed version of what she said to Irvine: “I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband. Do you not have any value or respect for originality? You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy. It’s disgusting. I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious. I am embarrassed to be sitting here in your presence.”

Her husband chimed in, comparing Irvine to fictional serial killer Norman Bates: “I feel like you’re going stick somebody’s skin to your face and then kill everybody in the audience.”

But Kills still wasn’t done. “It’s absolutely disgusting. You make me sick,” she said. “I can’t stand it. I’m ashamed to be here.”

The public immediately responded. A petition on change.org of more than 77,000 signatures called for the immediate firing of Kills. They got their wish. Kills and Moon were both fired a day later. And that’s a good thing because it sends a universal message to kids everywhere that bullying is not OK, and that if you are bullied, the rest of the world has your back.

And in a show of awesomeness, New Zealand’s own Lorde sent Irvine cupcakes. 

Kills and Moon — which might as well be the asshole version of Hall and Oates — verbally attacked Irvine with zero regard for his personal well being, and basically treated him like he was dirt. It’s a classic case of bullying, and they deserve every bit of ridicule they get.

When Peter Jackson and the actors of the Lord of the Rings arrived in New Zealand to film the epic trilogy 15 years ago, this is not the type of behavior they thought would come after them.

My solution? Let’s toss Natalia Kills and Willy Moon into the fiery pits of Mount Doom.