Taking One for the Team

Shun Fujimoto with his Gold medal

Continuing with out Unsung Olympic Heroes series, in conjunction with the London 2012 Summer Olympiad. This week we will focus on Shun Fujimoto, a Japanese male gymnast.

There were many stories that came out of the 1976 Olympics. The gymnastics event were dominated by the grace and precision of Romanian gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, who was a sensation when she was awarded the first-ever perfect 10.0 on the uneven bars; eventually she earned seven perfect 10.0s.

The heroic story of male gymnast Shun Fujimoto is incredible in every respect.

Injured in an earlier floor exercise routine, Fujimoto kept his VERY serious injury from his team mates and team officials for fear of getting disqualified and destroying the morale of his team-mates; he had in fact fractured his patela in his knee and had ONE more major obstacle before finishing his set, which was the rings events.

An event which would require him to dismount from a height that would surely hurt a great deal, Fujimoto nevertheless gave one of his best ring performances ever and the moment of immense pain would come during the dismount. The pain that surged through his body was indescribable.

The Japanese team emerged triumphant due in part to Fujimoto’s selfless and courageous act, even when receiving his Gold Medal; he refused to allow his team mates to assist him up the medal podium.

Toughness defines athletes, just as skill and talent do. Some, by their deeds and their demeanor, become the toughest of them all. If you don’t have mental toughness, you are never going to perform to your full physical potential. From time to time there are athletes who give us a brand new perspective on what that potential might be. Eternal respect is perpetuated for those who compete in the face of overwhelming odds and real pain and danger.

A truly inspiring Olympian.