Canidian Heroes

Skating champion demonstrates great determination

By Krystle Capuska
Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba

What is a hero? My definition of a hero is a person with charisma, a person who is skillful and has great dedication towards life and what they are striving to achieve. With great mental and physical concentration almost everyone can achieve a hero status. A hero is idolized, is respected, and looked up to.

Everyone is a hero in their own way. You may not be publicized in the newspaper or on television, but others will recognize you for who you are. Not everyone may think you are a hero, but there is always at least one person who looks up to you and wishes they could be more like you. That's what counts.

Heroes are willing to endure hardships in order to maintain or achieve a high status or level of performance. Everyone needs a hero. You need someone to look up to, someone who you can look at and all of your problems will disappear.

In my mind there are many types of heroes. There are sports heroes and drama heroes, and then there are ordinary people who are just walking down the street, find trouble and go help. I do not know anyone like that but, I do have a hero. A sports hero as a matter of fact! He has made world history a few times, made a handicapped child's dream come true and endured his share of hardships.

In 1998 at the Olympics he was sick, had not practiced all week and had a severe injury. He managed to keep all this from the media, trying not to make a big deal of the whole thing. As soon as he stepped on the ice and the cameras were on him, seeing the look on his face, I knew something was wrong. He is normally focused and ready to go, but the look on his face that night in Nagano, Japan told me that something was definitely wrong, told me that he was hurting.

Nobody knew anything was wrong with him but I could tell he was hanging on by a thread, doing it for the crowd and not himself. From the moment his program started there was no usual smile, no look of concentration, just a look of pure anguish. At the end of his program he was almost crying, dying from the pain. He did not wait for his results, just went straight to the doctor's room to find his acupuncturist. Later that evening we were told on the news that he had been skating with a pulled groin muscle, and my heart went out to him. I knew something was wrong and that announcement proved me correct.

As he hobbled to the podium to get his well deserved second place medal, the crowd rose to their feet and cheered. Still, today he is not 100 percent, but he is more the man I know and adore: Elvis Stojko. Elvis does not yet consider himself a hero, as I consider him, but this is because he has not yet reached his goal of an Olympic gold medal.

He has taught me that when you fall, you have to get up and that is what I did. He proved to be correct. As I climbed the podium to receive my second place medal, I thought of Elvis, my parents and my coach who continue to push me a little farther everyday to help me do what I love, skate.

Everyone needs a hero, big or small, old or young. No matter who it is, they capture your eye and attention in one way or another. They will always try their best not to let you down. They have earned you affection and trust, and all of this makes you proud to call them your hero.