Tales of Two Achievers

(Through Rose-Coloured Glasses)

 Steve Fonyo, Jr., is a Canadian who lost his left leg to cancer at age 12. He ran across Canada, from coast to coast, in marathon entitled the “Journey for Lives” to raise funds for cancer research. In doing so, he followed in the footsteps of Terry Fox; but unlike Fox, who had to abandon the Marathon of Hope when his cancer returned, Fonyo completed the coast-to-coast marathon and also completed a marathon across the United Kingdom. He raised 14 millions for cancer research. He received the Order of Canada. He accomplished all these before age 20. But unfortunately for Fonyo, he was on skid row in later life. He got in trouble with the law, convicted several times with drug use, drunk driving, forgery and assult. He suffered from depression. He is now in jail. His Order of Canada was taken away from him. It is a sad tale.

Clara Hughes is a Canadian cyclist and speed skater, and has won multiple Olympic medals in both sports. That makes her one of the few athletes to medal at both the Summer and Winter Games of the Olympics. She is a humanitarian and involved with Right To Play, an athlete-driven international humanitarian organization that uses sports to encourage the development of youth in disadvantaged areas. She is chosen as the Canadian flag bearer in this year’s Winter Olympic. But she was not always a role model. She had her tough time. Her downward spiral started when her parents split up when she was 9. She drank heavy and used drugs at a young age. She was a trouble child, until one day, when she was 16, she saw the Calgary Winter Olympic on TV and was impressed by the Canadian speed skater Boucher. She declared: “That’s what I want to be”. And she never looked back. She met a few excellent coaches and with endurance, dedication and perseverence, she stands proud today for her accomplishments.

Some observations: First half of your life is not as memorable as your second half. It’s your later life that counts. Want to be bad, do it early, before you become successful. Late bloomer is definitely better than early achiever. Somehow people appreciate you better as a rogue who turned gold, not vice versa.

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