Measures of a Champion

Aug. 12, 2008, 8:45 a.m. (ET)

On Tuesday afternoon in Shunyi, years of efforts and the hopes of many were dashed when Scott Parsons was judged to have missed a gate near the end of his second run in the first day of slalom competition in the Beijing Games. I felt literally sick. His large and vocal group of friends and family who had traveled to China to support him were devastated.

Our team staff felt the call was wrong and prepared, filed and argued our protest. In the end, the call was sustained, our protest denied and Scott’s Olympic competition ended.

Scott faced TV reporters and print journalists eager to hear him describe what happened and share his emotions. Like the champion he is, he calmly explained his run, the problem encountered in that gate and the feelings he was experiencing. He was poised and gracious in a way that few of us can imagine at a time when his thoughts and emotions must have been racing faster than any of the boats that had traversed the slalom course that day.

Scott’s was a classy performance. It was a gut check for us all. In the nature of sport: for every winner, there are many losers.  The world’s best golfers miss gimme putts. The difference between a home run and a long fly out is micro-seconds and inches. Things happen.

I have no doubt where Scott will be physically on Tuesday: running the course cheering loudly his teammate Benn Fraker who put down two solid runs to move into the final day of C-1 competition. I hope he’s a good place mentally as well.