Letter to the editor: Olympics offer hope for the future

The Olympics still matter. In spite of COVID’s effect on the games; in spite of the corruption of the IOC (International Olympic Committee); in spite of years of doping controversies; in spite of restrictions on protests; and in spite of NBC’s often awful coverage of the games, the Olympics still matter. They matter because it is a showcase of hope for the world’s future, featuring greatness that the world’s youth can achieve. And for us here in America, it offers a glimpse of a future that is fast becoming a reality.

One of the best examples of that reality was the women’s gold medal-winning 4 x 400-meter relay team in track and field. Here you had four beautiful women of color from different backgrounds running magnificently. Sydney McLaughlin of New Jersey, the current world record holder and gold medalist in the 400-meter hurdles, was born to a white mother and an African American father. Allyson Felix of Los Angeles, the most decorated American Olympic track athlete of all time, is African American. Dalilah Muhammad of Queens, former world record holder and Olympic champion in the 400-meter hurdles, is an African American of the Muslim faith. Athing Mu of New Jersey, the 800-meter Olympic champion at just 19 years old, was born in this country to immigrant parents from South Sudan. To white supremacists, this group must seem like a nightmare. But to those of us who believe in a democratic, inclusive and diverse America, these women represent the future strength of our country. They are articulate, incredibly hard-working, and extremely well-grounded.

What more could we ask for?

The world is changing, our country is changing, our Vermont is changing. We need all the energy and passion of our young people to help us navigate difficult times now and in the future. As a 74-year-old former high school track coach of 28 years, I can certainly appreciate the incredible athletic talent of these and other Olympians. But more than their athletic talent, I hope that what they represent can help bring this country and world to a better place and that young people today can combine their talents and energy with whatever wisdom we older folks have accumulated to bring us to a brighter future.

Ed Blechner


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