Winning the Race – Donovan Bailey

© Original content written by James R. Carlson

This year the Olympics will be in Brazil. Athleticism is a powerful thing. We witness the best of the human race compete against one another showing us what the limits of our humanity is. Who is the fastest, the strongest, and who can jump higher and farther? We share in the challenge vicariously as members of the human race. One individual in particular showed us how he won the race.


20 years ago I met Donovan Bailey. I did not know who he was but I was interested in talking with him and knowing more about him. The conversation started casually at first and then got deep. I asked him what business he was in and he said he designed tennis shoes for Adidas. I was surprised and asked how he got that great job. He said he was in the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996. He in fact won the gold medal for the 100 meter dash and 400 meter relay. He is the real deal!


As the topic of race and racism is important to me, I asked him what he thought about the issue of racism that was discussed during the Olympics in Atlanta. He said that he grew up in Canada and that people in Canada are always ethnically different from one another; that was the norm. He said it would be unusual to find 2 people who were ethnically the same. Mr. Bailey said he understood what Civil Rights means in America but that it was unusual that so many people were concerned with how ethnically different we are from one another in the U.S..


I thought it was terrific to meet someone so open and candid about the difficult issue of race. It was also pleasant to talk with him as race was not an obstacle to our conversation. And I also thought how ironic it was that the person least encumbered about the issue of race, actually won the race in the Atlanta Olympics. At one point in time, he was the fastest man alive in the human race. Following his example, we too can win the race.


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