Guam – Guam Swimmer Ben Schulte is being celebrated for his performance in the marathon swimming event at the London Olympics not because he won, but because he finished.
Schulte swam in Friday’s 10 kilometer swim. The 16 year old finished last, 14 minutes behind the Gold medal winner Tunisia’s Oussama Mellouli. Yet his performance has been written up by both the Associated Press and Reuters and posted on a variety of international media websites, including CNBC, ESPN and News.com.au.
The articles praise Schulte’s performance as embodying the true spirit of the Olympics. He could have quit, but he didn’t.
AP reporter Paul Newberry writes in a story posted on ESPN.com: “In keeping with the true Olympic ideal that so often gets obscured by the focus on gold medals and endorsement deals, he had given it his best to the very end, even when his arms were burning and he couldn’t really feel his legs anymore.”
Schulte, he writes, “didn’t want to let down his family, or his friends, or his tiny Pacific island homeland.”
A Reuters story posted on CNBC.com reports that Schulte “got as big a roar as the champion from the massive crowds that lined the 18th century man-made lake in Hyde Park when he reached the end.”
And Schulte is quoted as saying: “My goal was just to finish. Just being here, being given the opportunity to be here. I didn’t want to let down my friends and family back home by not finishing.”
Schulte moved to Australia 3 years ago from Guam to train with coach Dennis Cotterill. A report on news.com.au concludes that the “16-year-old swimmer representing tiny Guam is today the spirit of the Olympics.”
He is quoted as saying “I felt like if I stopped I’d be letting people down so I just kept swimming to the next buoy and the next thinking ‘I can put up my hand to get out now’. On that last lap I just kept going.”
And the article concludes: “You can’t call Ben Schulte anything but a winner.”