Cross Country Sprint star Petra Majdic, from Slovenia, was favored to win Wednesday’s gold medal finals at the 2010 Winter Olympic games at Whistler.
That is, until she suffered a terrible accident during a warm-up early Wednesday. Her skis caught a patch of ice on a downhill slope. She fell nine feet into a gully off the side of the track.
When she fell, she broke both poles, one ski, four ribs, and punctured her lung.
But what did she do next?
She climbed out of the gully and went on to race four times, including the opening round, the quarter finals, the semi-finals, and the finals.
And she didn’t just compete, she won the bronze medal.
Shortly after the awards ceremony, which she attended in a wheelchair, she went back to the hospital for treatment. They say she’ll be there for some time recovering from the wounds.
Already heralded as a true champion in Slovenia (her’s marks their fifth Olympic Winter Games medal in Slovenia’s history), she will return as a giant. As well she should.
She’s a giant in my eyes.
Her teammate, Barbara Jezersek, said, “She won’t compete again, because the injury is too bad. What she did was something amazing. She wanted to get a medal, and she did. She is like a hero now in Slovenia. She has really strong will to compete. The coach tell her to stop skiing because of injury. But she was too strong. She wouldn’t listen.”
Canmore, Alberta’s Sara Renner said, “It was phenomenal. She was in so much pain. Her crash was horrific. The fact she pulled off a bronze medal… she was digging into something superhuman there. I can’t imagine how she was able to do it.”
Neither can I. But in watching her do it, I learned something important. I learned that when you want something badly enough, when you’re intensely focused on achieving your goal, you can see past enormous barriers and endure enormous pains. It’s a lesson of willpower, which Petra proved is strong enough to overcome nearly anything.
Thank you, Petra, for your example and strength. Your greatness and perseverance are inspiring.
Other inspiring Olympic stories:
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