What most folks don't know about me is that when I was a child, I had problems with my hips. They were developing wrong, and in the process were cutting off circulation to my legs. When I was 4 years-old, the docs diagnosed something called Legg Perthes, or more completely, Legg-Calve'-Perthes Disease (click here for more background.) I spent two years in a rather large two-legged cast, which was followed by ongoing physiotherapy.
In many respects, the cycling and other distance sports were my way of saying that I was fine. Indeed, better than fine. To this day, thankfully, I am. And I take nothing for granted, because you simply never know.
So when I started reading about American cyclist Floyd Landis's pursuit of the Tour de France, I was intrigued. Here was a guy who suffered from osteonecrosis - the same thing I had, only his resulted from a crash in 2002 - and his hip was quite literally decaying. His attitude struck me as inspirational. And I knew that, win or lose, I needed to write about him when I next picked up my pen.
He won the Tour de France on Sunday. My column in today's paper pays tribute to the kind of singular devotion that, if leveraged on a larger scale, might help make our world a better place. Here it is...
Deriving strength from afflictionYour turn: Do stories like Mr. Landis's inspire you to push yourself further? Why? What's your next step after reading this?
Published Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The London Free Press
It's easy to be inspired by greatness. It's just as easy to miss it when it comes in a humble package.
Such is the case with Floyd Landis, who on Sunday became the third American in history to win cycling's greatest race, the Tour de France.
Landis's win is more remarkable because his right hip will be replaced later this year. After a 2002 crash, the joint began to decay and die. He is in almost constant pain, and can't cross his legs. Yet he views the pain as a motivator to drive himself harder.
Landis, 30, could have blamed his hip when he failed to perform in a crucial mountain stage last week. He could have used the pain as an excuse.
Instead, he fought back into contention the very next day.
In a world where we are quick to blame others and make excuses for our failures, it's refreshing when a champion takes the high road.
I suspect there's a lesson in there for the rest of us.