As we all know and have been able to witness this summer, every four years, countries from all over the world send their best athletes to compete and represent them in the Olympic games. Athletes give it all they have in them to make their people proud. They spend four years, day in and day out preparing for this moment, for their moment of glory, but for some of them this moment is cut short.
Here in Puerto Rico we have all been rooting for our athletes, whether it was Mónica who won Puerto Rico’s first gold medal, our volleyball players, our athletes in judo, or track and field, among the others sent to Rio to represent us. Yesterday we were all rooting for our other star, Javier Culson in the 400 meter hurdles final.
We were left without words when our medal winning champion was disqualified from the finals for a false start. I wasn’t able to see it, but heard about it immediately after as the people who saw it were talking about it at work. All of Puerto Rico was and still is standing by Culson and supporting him.
Later I saw his reaction and it is heart breaking, not because of the medal he could or could not have won, but this man has been working for four years for this moment. He has spent over a week running and giving it all in Rio, in front of the whole world, to have it all taken away by a small mistake; a mistake he never makes, not even in practice. He was disqualified because some people in an office in 2012 decided they wouldn’t allow a false start in the olympics, people who have probably never even been in these athletes shoes.
I will never face anything even remotely close to participating in the Olympics, representing my island, my people, all 3, 676, 276 currently on the island and those outside the island. I don’t think I can ever even say I know how he feels because that would be a lie, but I can understand the feeling of working hard for four years, working for your dream, and to have it all taken away by one little mistake, a mistake any one could have made because we’re all human and that means not being perfect. We all make mistakes, it can be the smallest thing caused by nerves, excitement, or anxious; whatever it is, we can all understand it. But after he came this far in the competition, after he ran so much and so fast, how can you not give him one more chance?
Aren’t we all human? Aren’t these games? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Where is the fun in seeing a man, probably the fastest man in Puerto Rico, cry? Or in making anyone cry for that matter?
Javier, todos estamos aquí contigo, tú eres un ganador no importa lo que pase.