Amongst all the glory, the heartbreak and personal stories that the Olympic Games has thrown up in the last ten days or so, none can be incredible as Great Britain’s canoeist Tim Brabants.
There will be other athletes who have come back from injury to compete and make their countries proud of them, no matter their placing in an event, but when your injury requires surgery on the very part of your body that is needed to succeed at you chosen sport then all you can do as a spectator is cheer them on even harder for just having the courage to get back into a canoe again.
Tim Brabants defended his Kayak sprint Olympic crown that he won in Beijing against top quality opposition on the fairly still waters of Eton Dorney. The memory of the shoulder surgery he underwent last year still fresh in the memory and every competitor that lined up beside him on the water would have been wanting to make Brabants use that shoulder as much as possible and to make it ache enough to slow him down over the 1000 metres.
After 250 metres the Canadian Adam Van Koeverden started to surge ahead leaving clear water behind him and with the Norwegian Eirik Larsen someway off behind him. British hearts would have gone out to Tim Brabants who, perhaps realising that the dream was over would have been buoyed and gladdened by the crowd who cheered him on to the finish as if he was heading for the line in first place.
By 1500 metres, the speed that the Canadian had started off at was beginning to tell and Eirik Larsen looked to have timed his race to perfection as little by little he chipped away at the lead and with 20 metres to go pulled level with the Canadian.
The finish was thrilling as Eirik Larsen proved too much for the rest of the field to compete with and deserved to take the Gold Medal. An excellent race for which it was a pleasure to watch, the crowd at Eton Dorney cheered Tim Brabants as if he had won gold and goes to prove that the Olympics is all about competing and taking part.
Tim Brabants deserves to be cheered as an Olympic hero as much as anyone.
Ian D. Hall