It'z News to Me

The news of the day...and my own peculiar take on it...

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss

If you don't remember the name, you're not alone...I didn't remember the name until I watched an NBC story about the women's marathon event this morning...But I've always remembered her story:

She competed in the marathon for Switzerland at the 1984 Summer Olympics, and she came in last. What is memorable though is not where or when she finished, but that she finished at all.

I remember watching that race. I remember watching her stagger into the stadium - plainly exhausted. The marathon ended with a final lap around the track, and for six minutes I watched her struggle against herself to finish that race. She had come 26 miles, and she was going to finish. With the halting and stumbling borne of a body that had nothing left to give, her mind drove it around that track - dodging at least one official who tried to make her stop lest he touch her and thereby disqualify her - to the finish line anyway. It was a spectacle that at first stunned the crowd to silence as it saw the effect the race had on her as she entered the stadium. That soon gave way to a loud and sustained cheering both at home and in the stadium as if every spectator were trying to pull her across that finish line by their encouragement. I will never forget how, once across that line, she collapsed into the waiting doctors' arms, her mind no longer able to ambulate her broken body even another step now that she had reached her goal.

It was an awe-inspiring testament to the human will to drive the flesh to its limits and beyond. I didn't even remember what country she represented until I was reminded, but it didn't matter. In those last minutes of bending her body to her will to reach her goal - to finish what she started, she represented everyone. Today I remember her story, and I thank her for her reminder of the triumph of the human spirit...