September 30 ~  Triumph Slaying the Dragon

"Persistent work triumphs." ~ Virgil

Marion Jones

The Olympics is a passionate celebration of persistent work and triumph, in both victory and defeat.

In Sydney, Australia Summer Games of 2000, veteran long jumper Heike Drechsler (1964-) of Germany made a gold medal leap of 6.99 meters (22 feet, 11 1/4 inches). Her win stopped the highly-publicized dream of U.S. athlete Marion Jones (1976-) of becoming the first woman to win five gold medals at the Summer Olympics.

Jones, a bronze winner in the event, earlier won gold in the 100 and 200 meter races (won by the greatest margin in that event in 40 years of competitions). A two-time World 100 meter champion (1997, 1999), she played basketball at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, scoring 1,716 points in three years, before switching to track and field events.

Jones once said, "As long as you're running fast, life is good."

About her loss to Drechsler, the charismatic Jones said, "I can tell my grandchildren in 30 years that I competed against one of the best long jumpers ever. It's as simple as that." Jones ended the games with an impressive three gold medals and two bronze--the first woman to win five medals at one Olympics.

Drechsler, 35, the oldest woman in the field, at the time said, "I'm glad I won. Marion is still young. She has many more years."

Jones was just seven years old when Drechsler leapt to fame in 1983 as the youngest-ever athlete (18) to win a gold medal at the World Championships. Unfortunately, in 2004, she was unable to score more gold at the Athens games.

"When you reach for the stars," said advertising expert Leo Burnett, "you may not quite get one, but you won't come up with a handful of mud either."

There can be triumph even in defeat.