Dara Torres: All That the Olympics Should Be

chad lamasaCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2008

At their core, the Olympic Games are supposed to be about goodwill and sportsmanship. The world comes together in friendly competition.

To me, Dara Torres embodies the word sportsmanship. At 41 she is old enough to be the mother of many of her teammates, or at least their big sister. She accepted that role and took her teammates under her wing.

Torres, appeared in her fifth Olympics. Beijing could have been her seventh Olympics but she has retired twice. She is one of the most decorated female swimmers in Olympic history, though she has never won an individual gold medal.

Prior to one of her races, she noticed that a competitor, Therese Alshammar of Sweden, was having trouble with her swimsuit. Torres took time out of her warm up to try to help the other athlete.

When she realized she couldn't fix the problem, Torres went to the official and asked if the race could be delayed until Alshammar could change.

This wasn't for a teammate—this was for a girl she barely knew.  To me it was one of the best moments of the Olympics so far.

Many athletes probably wouldn't have noticed if a competitor was having an issue with equipment. Or if they had noticed, wouldn't have given it much of a thought beyond, "Okay, there is one less person I have to worry about."

But she took the time to go and try to help the girl, and then asked to delay the start of the race.

She somehow managed to get her focus back and was the fastest qualifier in the 50 meter freestyle, with a time of 24.27 seconds. Torres lost the final by 1/100th of a second and joked that she shouldn't have filed her nails the night before.

She may have only taken a silver medal in the race, but she definitely has a heart of gold.

Photo above By Daniel J. Powers, USA TODAY