Acts of Kindness & Love: An Olympic Story

So much attention has been focused on Simone Biles in these Olympics — and hers is truly an inspiring story of courage, self-care, generosity and victory.

She had the bravery to step back after years of preparation to acknowledge she was unable to safely perform. This was an act of courageous self-care in the face of personal disappointment and cynical judgement by those who couldn’t understand. And it was an act of generosity to step aside in order not to risk bringing down the entire U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Team. Then in the end, Biles’ story was one of victory when she returned for the Women’s Balance Beam Final and won Bronze.

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 03: Simone Biles of Team United States competes in the Women’s Balance Beam Final on day eleven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Gymnastics Centre on August 03, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Joint gold medalists Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim (R) and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi pose on the podiumn of the men’s high jump final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on August 2, 2021. (Photo by Ina FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo by INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images)

Another high point for me was the sharing of a Gold Medal by Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi and Qatar’s Mutaz Barshim. The two were tied for Gold in the Men’s High Jump when officials suggested they jump again to determine the winner. Barshim asked if they could each share the Gold and the officials agreed — the first shared Gold Medals since 1912 in Stockholm. It also helped Tamberi realize the dream of his life after suffering a near-career ending injury in 2016. Watch the video on Twitter.

During the 800-meter semifinal on Sunday U.S. runner Isaiah Jewett fell causing Nijel Amos of Botswana, right behind him, to fall also. Both runners hopes were dashed in that moment — with Jewett being responsible.

Surely disappointed, Amos could also have been angry but he wasn’t. The two  helped each other to their feet, put their arms around each other, and finished the race together.

To me this demonstrates the camaraderie that people can have across cultures, races, religions and so many human differences. Watch the video on Twitter.

TOKYO, JAPAN – AUGUST 01: Isaiah Jewett of Team United States and Nijel Amos of Team Botswana react after falling in the Men’s 800m Semi-Final on day nine of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 01, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Top Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images; Bottom Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

The Jordan Windle Story

Jordan and his father co-authored this children’s book based on their experience. According to Amazon the book is out of print, but somehow I suspect this might change!

Of all the acts of kindness and love in these Olympics the stand-out story for me personally is U.S. men’s platform diver Jordan Windle — a story that goes beyond this Tokyo competition to encompass his entire life from childhood.

Jordan, an orphan born on Cambodia in November 1998, was adopted by his single gay father in 2000 when he was 18 months old. Jerry Windle wanted very badly to be a father but adoption by single gay men was illegal at the time.

Father and son were featured on NBC’s Today Show this week which you can watch below. Theirs is a story of love and sacrifice, and lives transformed in the process. Together they wrote a children’s book about their experience, An Orphan No More: The True Story of a Boy.

Both Jordan and his father have endured harassment and bullying for their unusual interracial family with a single gay parent. The idiocy of this hatred is shown in the person Jordan has grown to be and his accomplishments. I suspect few of the haters have come close.

Jordan finished 9th this morning in the Men’s 10-meter Platform competition — not too shabby considering the extraordinary caliber of the divers this year. Britain’s champion gay diver Tom Daley was in strong position for the Gold but was denied by two spectacular Chinese divers who won Gold and Silver. They pushed Daley to Bronze and possibly Jordan back a notch or two as well.

But no shame. One of the NBC announcers this morning said this about the divers in today’s competition, “When you get to the Olympic Finals, you’ve achieved something that very few divers achieve.” Jordan should be proud, and I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of him!

Here’s the segment that aired on NBC:

This video was produced by Jordan’s college, the University of Texas:

Title image of Jordan Windle is by khmerdad under Creative Commons License.

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