The life of most athletes is often viewed publicly as fairly one dimensional. We get fit and compete, and then sometimes the media write about it. But every once in a while (more often than you think) athletes do something that is noteworthy beyond just training hard, winning a race and smiling for the camera. Athletes get involved in their communities and accomplish wonderfully effective things outside of the sporting arena.
One such athlete who deserves a big shout out for his efforts is Duff Gibson. You may remember Duff from the Olympic Winter Games in Torino 2006 where he became the oldest Olympic champion in history in the sport of skeleton. His win was poignant to say the least, considering the long and winding road he took to get there, testing his mettle in many sports before finding his strength in skeleton.
Duff and I have crossed paths many times, first in his pursuit of speed skating, and then at various sporting events and fund-raising functions over the years. We currently have the great privilege of being represented by the same sport agency. And so we keep up on how the other is doing through the wonders of the www.
A couple of years ago I saw Duff at a Christmas party and he and his wife, Jenn, excitedly showed me photos of the two young Ethiopian brothers that would soon become their adopted children. I distinctly remember simultaneously getting goosebumps and tears in my eyes listening to them talk about their impending new family members.
This past fall Duff undertook a Dare to Remember with the Stephen Lewis Foundation by walking 12 kilometres with a 20L jug of water on his back from Canada Olympic Park to his son’s school to raise awareness about access to clean water in Ethiopia (and Africa). His goal was to raise $7500 and he far surpassed that goal by raising over $22,000. This is just a small example of the thoughtful and inspiring things Duff does to help make the world a better place.
Most recently Duff has started a wonderful blog called Sport At Its Best. His aim is to provide thought-provoking dialogue about the incredible power of sport, beyond winning, losing and big business. He showcases the less dramatic but infinitely more meaningful aspects of sport that are so rarely recognized by many our society. ‘There’s more to be gained than victory’ is the the tagline of the blog and it says as much about sport as it does about Duff. Here is one Olympic champion who can see the big picture.
Whenever I visit his blog I get a dose of perspective, inspiration and goosebumps all at once. His entries help me appreciate even more what I am doing and I am so thankful for that.
Duff’s current day job is that of Calgary firefighter. He also moonlights as a coach for the skeleton development team and will be commentating for CTV at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver. His list of accomplishments is long and varied, but he should be commended more for the person he is and what he has accomplished outside of being an Olympic champion than any number of medals he has won. He embodies the spirit of Olympism in its purest form.
Check out Sport at its Best – you will be happy you did!