Growing up, I would always watch the Olympic marathon to see the top runners fight for gold at the final stretch.I had no idea how dramatic and emotional the finish line could be.
Until this morning.
Today, I didn’t care about gold, silver or bronze.
To me, every one of those marathoners deserved a medal.
Today, I saw determination, hard work and a lot of heart.
I saw a crowd respecting every single athlete that crossed the finish line–applauding all of them.
I saw runners proud of finishing the race no matter where they placed or how they finished it.
I saw a runner crawl through the finish line.
I saw runners cheering other runners.
I saw friends hugging and congratulating one another for their accomplishment.
I saw a marathoner from Cambodia entertaining the audience right after race–gesturing at the crowd and asking people to make noise. Then, he danced as the crowd chanted, “Cambodia! Cambodia!”
He was definitely the crowd’s favorite. He finished second to last.
I also saw whom I came here to see: the green singlet of a friend and fellow Jaguar.
He put his arms up–closed fist–and crossed the finish line.
“Hey Pardon, you are now an Olympian,” Brennan yelled.
He looked at us.
He pointed at us.
And he gave us a “Pardon” smile. If you know him, you know what kind of smile that is.
Except this one was bigger.
This one brighter.
This one was happier.
It was a special moment.
He placed 41 out of 155. The first from Zimbabwe to finish the Olympic marathon.
He is officially among the best marathoners in the world.
He may not have stepped on the podium today, but for us he won gold.
Be sure to check out Brennan Meagher’s blog for her take on our Rio experience.