The Brazilian XC Skier Book: Extract 2
Moussambani, only 8 months after his first contact with a swimming pool, was thrown in to stardom after a 100 meters freestyle race at the 2000 Olympics.
His time on the water was laughed at, and his childish swimming style was ridiculed.
Helio states: “It’s not a fair comparison. Ok, he finished last, and he didn’t have access to a proper swimming pool, just as I get no snow in Brazil. For the rest, I can finish among the last on high level competitions, but I’m fiercely dedicated to cross country skiing, I train as much as I can, much longer than 8 months, and with all due respect, I’m better at cross country skiing than he was at swimming. Besides, you can’t compare swimming a 100 meters to what I do.“
Olympic Games aspire to unite folks of all continents, which is fittingly represented by the five intertwined rings that give the Olympic Symbol shape.
Nonetheless, in Hélio's opinion, Olympians, besides being the best athletes in their countries, need also to be deeply committed to the sport they engage themselves in.
"I believe the union that the Games intend to provide would have even more value if all continents, including Africa, were able to send to the Olympics athletes who have had the opportunity to dedicate themselves and who truthfully try to achieve the best possible level within the realm of their possibilities."
That goes hand in hand with Hélio's answer when asked about the opportunity of taking part in such heavyweight events as the World Championships and the Olympic Games, in which the Brazilian skier inevitably stands in a lower performance level than world's top notch: “It’s not my intention to be in the spotlight as an object of curiosity, but because my effort can be a source of inspiration for those who believe that their personal limitations and daily obstacles would end up closing doors. Instead, they should strive to continue in the pursuit of their ambitions. Not only when it comes to sports, but also as a way of life in general.”
The mind-boggling record-breaking results we see on TV constitute an inspiration for us to do our best. As not every single one of us is a performance athlete, such inspiration can be channeled through work, leisure activities and even our personal relationships.
This makes us, even in our ordinary everyday lives, feel like doing stuff in an extraordinary way, finding satisfaction in the challenge itself and then in stretching limits.
Helio himself found the drive to take up the challenge of skiing in the endeavor of all the athletes competing in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
However, the magic creatures that most of us only see on TV seem very far away from us. They are almost unreal in their immaculate perfection.
Helio, on the other hand, is someone like us, who dreamt of becoming a competitive skier while living in a country where there is no snow. The fact that he pursued his dream and was able to make it come true by practicing on grass and pavement may actually signify that extra sparkle most of us need to struggle for things that suddenly seem less complicated than before.