Olympic Highlights You Might Have Missed, Part I: Olympic Courage and First Gold

Matthew IrbySenior Analyst IAugust 9, 2008

The most populous country in the entire world for the first time will be hosting the 29th Summer Olympics.

So many topics about the Olympics can range from the issues that people have with China regarding human rights to the venues and events that NBC deem for the US population to watch.

Granted that if you have CNBC, MSNBC, Universal HD, USA, Oxygen, and Telemundo you can watch Olympic coverage nearly 24 hours a day.

I'm starting these series of pieces to address the less known events and stories behind either athletes that don't roll off our tongues or non-American athletes.

The first piece that I want to address is the often used phrase, the Olympic courage.

Many think that this refers to the superstar athletes looking to further increase their personal medal count or professional athletes that get paid to play the games they play in the Olympics.  It doesn't.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing the United States win medals and athletes represent this great nation with dignity and respect.  But I'm not uber excited to see this so-called perfect men's basketball team try to "redeem" themselves by winning gold. 

When I think about the Olympic spirit, never have I thought about Kobe and LeBron, I'm more likely to think about an athlete from a third-world nation that may be one of only a few athletes representing his/her entire nation.

If you were to poll all the 13,000+ athletes in this year's Olympics, I would guarentee that over 75% of them are not looking to win a medal, but to break their personal best, compete in front of the entire world, and represent their home nation.  However, everyone of them will dream it, that's the dream that the Olympics bring to thousands of athletes and millions around the world.

Medals are good, I'm cheering for Michael Phelps to win his 8 gold medals, it will be a fascinating story, but the true meaning of the Olympic spirit is an unknown athlete giving everything he/she has to better him/herself in front of thousands there and millions around the world.

One of these highlights that is not likely to see any broadcast time of make it onto ESPN's Sportscenter would be the Women's 10m Air Rifle.  Unless you saw the quick highlight by NBC, read about it, or actually watched this event, I bet you didn't know that Katerina Emmons (pictured above) of the Czech Republic not only won the first gold medal of the Olympic Games, but set a new world record.

Most of us would not pay any attention to events like these, either because the US media has not mentioned it or their was no American's in the event.  But don't tell that to American Jamie Beyerle who finish fourth, just outside the medal stand.

Katerina Emmons will never make millions of dollars doing what she does, she will probably never be on a Wheaties box or have a shoe deal with Nike, but she improved on her 2004 Athens bronze medal, she made her nation, her hometown of Plzen, and her husband Matthew Emmons, a member of the US Shooting Team, very proud.  And that's the true menaing of the Olympic spirit.