More Than Bronze, More Than Words

Today the Bulgarian national team won the bronze medal with hoops and clubs at the European Championship in Holon. In their fairy-tale blue leotards, they quietly reminded us  that this sport is not about glitter and pirouettes. It is about strength of character as much as any other sport. And, just like in any sport, actions speak more clearly than any words. 

We all saw this team act as the moral winner by the standards of both sport and life. They did not give in to false accusations, to the pressure of sensation-seekers, and to the hypocrisy of former supporters.
A reserve gymnast going to her first big event on a short notice of several days. A team captain, who had take her team out of the carpet and then proudly held up a medal for an injured teammate. A  dedicated coach who was blamed for a tragedy she did not cause and did not back down from her professional duties.  In this championship they acted as one. They held together as a team and held to the value of their work.

Why did they choose to perform despite the tragedy? The answer is that this performance was about standing up for what you believe and what you have strived to become. Winning a medal is not the reason. Saying that you support a teammate is not the reason. The will to do your best, in the most distressing of circumstances, is the real and the greatest achievement. 

Many people outside the Bulgarian team needed to see this lesson in honor and courage. This team will continue to perform professionally, ethically and with respect to those who deserve it. The coaches and the gymnasts will work together  and they will make decisions together.  They will not allow anyone to be made a scapegoat. They will go to Rio with the same mental strength and zeal.

The greatest support we can give them as fans is to try to be like them.

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