Guts are a key ingredient in the makeup of any athlete who meddles in endurance sports. Just stand at the final 400 metres of any marathon, major or small, and you'll see it on the salt-stained faces of finishers.
We like to celebrate during these Games those athletes who medal, those who stand on podiums and rack up medals. In defeat, in agony, however, you see the true display of sportsmanship and what it takes to push the body beyond limits.
Paula Findlay finished last in her Olympic debut today, and told the nation that she was "sorry." For any athlete who have felt the Wall, felt the race wasn't their day, that must be just a fraction of what she was going through. On her sport's biggest day, she must of felt the weight of her own expectations, let alone her nation's.
"I'm really sorry to everybody to Canada."
It was fellow Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield who for me succinctly summed up what race day meant for his sport -- or any sport where preparation is the key. A few weeks after he ran that thrilling silver medal win in Beijing in 2008, he wrote:
"I felt like all I had to do was express
my fitness, I wasn't hoping for miracles, simply expressing fitness
earned through hard work," he wrote on a blog at the time.
Fitness is earned through hard work, and race day is an expression of all the preparation. These athletes don't go praying for a breakthrough performance, and even after the race Findlay said "I guess my fitness is not quite up there."
It wasn't Paula's day. And it could have been a day, where she would just have to stand off the course, and walk away from the race.
But she didn't.
One of the most unforgettable moments I'll always associate with the Olympics is the finish of Derek Redmond, a British runner who at the 1992 Games injured himself in the midst of competition. In severe pain and sadness, he hobbling to the finish, in front of tens of thousands.
Making it to the finish, forcing yourself to face the line, the cameras,
when you don't have an ounce of energy left in you. That's guts and that's heart.
No need to apologize Paula. No need.