You’d think the Olympics was only a time of glory and smiles. But the recent series “Olympic Controversies” in the Straits Times Home section highlights otherwise.

The personal accounts of athletes from decades ago showed the power of the Olympics in more ways than one.

In 1968, John Carlos and Tommie Smith were two Afro-American medalists who displayed a memorable act of silent protest on the winners’ podium. They wanted to stand up against racial discrimination that was still prevalent in America.

Their bravery resulted in much backlash.

Carlos received threats, “some guy…told me he was going to kill my father and send me pieces of him in the mail.” Subsequently, Carlos’ wife committed suicide and his mother died of a heart attack due to the pressures they were subject to post-Olympics.

Another story featured women athletes who were duped into taking “vitamins” by their coaches. These “vitamins” turned out to be steroids that enhanced their physical development and many suffered side effects in their adulthood. Frequent miscarriages and body deformation were common problems which these athletes had to deal with after their sports careers.

However, Heidi Kriegger was not so lucky. She  had to undergo a sex change because her body was too drastically altered. She was effectively a man after being forced to consume a regular diet of steriods.

To become Olympians  but only to lose humanity and identity. Glory certainly was bought at a huge price for many past athletes.

Therefore, the foundation of the Games is more solid than the current generation might comprehend. The Olympic story spans almost ten decades and it has evolved tremendously through the times.

Imagine how much heartbreak there must have been that remains untold. These people suffered to bring great change to our lives.

For another great story on a young girl in Somalia, click here.

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