Angelica Sha (Spain) on Olympic Values in Today's World

July 17, 2012

People all over the world may interpret Olympic values in various ways because of different cultural and social contexts. However, it has been commonly accepted by most of us that Olympic values for the twenty-first century are based on three principles: respect, excellence, and friendship.
I consider "respect" to be the fundamental one. It shall include respecting people, rules, and the environment. To respect people is to respect your teammates, your rival, and yourself. However, these are the more general aspects of "respect." Another highly important aspect should be to respect the sport that you practice, or the work that you do.

Based on the value of respect, the Olympic value of “excellence” encourages us to achieve our best. What makes the Olympic Games different from other mega sports events is the value of excellence, because the excellence here does not mean a higher score or a new world record, but the joy and pride of challenging oneself with the knowledge of one's own limitation. When many people who share these values come together under the Olympic flag, a solid friendship is built from promoting understanding, despite all kinds of differences, through sport. This is not only friendship among a few athletes, but a universal action of making world peace and realizing harmonious development on the earth.

As a doctoral student studying Olympic education, I firmly believe that education is the best way to realize Olympic values for the twenty-first century. Pierre de Coubertin revived the modern Olympic Games for the purpose of education. During 116 years, the Olympic Games, as their founding father wished, have played an active role on a platform for international understanding and communication, which is the first and the most important step of promoting Olympic values.

Olympic education can be and should be practiced in many forms. It can be integrated in many subjects of school curriculum; be held in classrooms, museums, or sports venues; or be organized for only a few children or for students of a whole city. Olympic educators from various countries are organizing these activities for children and young people. I could not be more proud of being one of them, and I am looking forward to contributing more when I finish my studies.

In addition, I would like to suggest that a particular way to realize and promote Olympic values is to encourage more Olympians and Olympic coaches to participate in all forms of Olympic education. The effect of one Olympian going to a local school to tell students his story of joy, effort, and precious memories of being with athletes from other countries in the Olympic Games is immediate and impressive. It makes Olympism and Olympic values become something real, visible, and lively.

I was born on the International Olympic Day. It is an honor to share the same birthday with the Olympic Games, but what makes me feel more honored and happy is sharing and promoting Olympic values among people from different countries, especially among the younger generation, through my studies and my work.
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