Did you see the man who lighted up the Olympic cauldron during the opening salvo of 2016 Rio Olympics?
His name is Vanderlei de Lima.
Did you know he is not a gold medalist nor an iconic Brazilian champion?
In other words, he is just an ordinary man. However, his story is worth more than gold medals and championship awards. It is something that is worth reading, knowing, and following.
Thus, Rio got it right when he was chosen for the job. He was the best fit.
Before anything, let me just put the Olympic creed out there: “The important thing in life is not the triumph, but the fight; the essential thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.”
De Lima is one of the seven boys of a farming family. He had simple dreams back then. To make a mark in this world.
And so, in 2004 Athens Olympics, de Lima fought for the gold medal in the marathon.
He was leading the race when suddenly a defrocked Irish priestman grabbed de Lima from the race and dragged him into a crowd. There were only four miles left to run.
Was he disappointed? He was, but he knew life was way more than gold medals.
Finishing at third, De Lima was all smiles still and in high spirits.
In a recent interview, he said he did what he needed to do.
“I had to continue no matter what. I had lots of people behind me, and I wasn’t going to let them down.”
“The attack was a surprise for me. I couldn’t defend myself because I was concentrating on my race. I don’t know what would have happened if the Greek man who helped me so quickly (Polyvios Kossivas) hadn’t reacted the way he did. I give him a lot of credit for his courage.”
He knew things could have been different. However, it does not matter anymore.
“With my sense of Olympic spirit I showed my determination and won a medal. Still, I am very proud of myself, because this is the result of very hard work.”
De Lima fought the good fight. He has finished the race. And he has definitely kept the faith.