This summer, the most anticipated sporting event in the world is taking place – the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics! Countries from every corner of the globe compete in several sporting disciplines, battling fiercely to win the coveted gold, and be dubbed Olympic Champions.
Some may see this as a medium to divide nations, ethnicities and beliefs. Nonetheless there have been countless instances which show integration amongst various countries, regions and nationalities. It is through this spectacle that we are able to see, just how powerful a sport can be. For this brief summer stint, countries put aside their differences in the name comradery and sportsmanship.
Raising one’s athletic prowess to such an elite level is no easy feat.These athletes sacrifice so much to get to this elite level and then to further participate while exemplifying tremendous comradery and sportsmanship is something we should all seek to emulate.
The most popular example of this is being deemed as “the selfie that brought two countries together”.
Above you can see two gymnasts from North Korea and South Korea respectively sharing a ‘selfie’ while they have a brief interval between their gymnastic apparatus participation. The photo since being taken has gone viral on social media. As youth, we are often criticized for being in the era ‘plagued’ by social media and technology but here we are seeing both of these elements playing an integral role in creating a symbol for unity. We should continue to use these international platforms to highlight and change social issues for the better.
Our diversity should not be seen as a wall that divides us but rather an opportunity to learn and grow from one another as we all have different strengths and talents to offer. The U.S.A Olympic gymnastics team is a beaming example of how sports can pacify segregation. The U.S.A team consists of several athletes, from several different ethnicities who have all come together to represent as one collective unit; kicking down barriers of racial divide that has been such a prevalent issue throughout this year.
Even regions that are regarded as smaller have seen tremendous social strides in the form of unity and a common pride due to athletes making history for representing their country’s in disciplines for the first time. The Caribbean in particular,is having this unique experience as islands throughout the region such as The Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados are now being represented in the Olympics for disciplines they have been absent from, since time immemorial. These include: judo, rowing, swimming, and gymnastics. These athletes are not only breaking down barriers and previously held stigmas that only ‘a select few’ can do it, but also shattering the glass ceiling by excelling at it!
They themselves are now beacons of hope and proof that once you set your mind to something it can be done regardless of the constraints society may seem to bond us by.We as youth must continue to move forward, overcome obstacles, and conquer odds not only in the sporting arena but in any other field which may pose a challenge. Let us mirror these athletes and choose to persevere no matter the sacrifice; no matter the adversity faced. Let us continue to use sports as a catalyst for change, and as a medium to help repair this broken world.
Disclaimer: All views/opinions stated in this article are of the respective writer and not of The Youth Observer.