Elvis Stojko shows courage in the face of pain

By Maxine Plett
Portage la Prairie, Manitoba

A hero is defined as a man who is admired and emulated for his achievements and qualities. Elvis Stojko is undoubtedly one of Canada's most heroic athletes. Stojko has competed in Men's Singles figure skating for most of his life. He serves as a hero to many aspiring skaters, as well as those who appreciate the sport. What makes him a hero? The same characteristics that helped him in his fight to the top: ability, determination, and attitude.

The biggest thing that brought Stojko to the top rankings of Figure Skating in the world was his ability. At the 1994 World Figure Skating Championships, he landed the first-ever quadruple jump in combination. This jump takes immense strength and ability. Stojko also performs some of the most difficult foot sequences in competition. His ability is something that he can rely on, however, it isn't the feature that makes him a hero. Even those with the best of ability falter occasionally. We may think that star athletes never fail, but this has been proven wrong repeatedly.

Copyright © 1999, Canoe Limited Partnership

Elvis Stojko - winner of the silver medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics

Ability is important in sports, but without determination, ability is futile. Stojko is extremely determined. When others predict failure, he proves them wrong and overcomes adversity. He endured a foot injury during the 1995 season. The media expected that he would lose his World Title, but, as he often does, he fought back and regained the title, foot injury and all.

At the 1998 Nagano Olympics, Stojko was striving for gold, but the media knew something was not right. After his final program, Stojko sagged with pain and exhaustion. The secret came out that he had been suffering from a severe groin injury. He competed under extreme pressure, not to mention, pain. Determination won him the silver medal. That performance is said to be his "gutsiest" ever. I would have to agree. It takes great courage and determination to bite back the pain and perform at the best level of which you are capable. He did not use this injury as an excuse, but pushed his limits. This determination is another heroic attribute.

Some heroes have ability and determination, but those that can add a positive and confident attitude to this are the greatest. When Stojko began skating at the World Amateur Skating Level, his choice of music and costume was quite different from other skaters. The judges, who were not familiar with his style and did not appreciate it, gave him low marks. Even though this continued for several seasons, Stojko did not change his style. He refused to change who he was in order to please the judges. Gradually, the judges adjusted to his character and began to mark him according to his ability. After this change, Stojko won five Canadian championships, three World Championships, and two Olympic silver medals.

Through these triumphant years, Stojko has kept the same message: "Don't pretend to be someone else, be yourself." He has not let the victory go to his head, but works had to earn each one. Stojko is a representative for the Ronald McDonald Children's Hospital. He helps children fulfill their dreams. His compassion for others and good sportsmanship have made him a role model and hero.

I think that Elvis Stojko is a hero. He has a great skating ability, tremendous determination, and the attitude and heart of a king. He has overcome the odds many times and always believed in himself, aiming for his best. As a hero he is an awesome role model for our country. In every
activity in which we participate, we should do our best, acknowledge others' work, and continue to strive to become better.

"Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen." Peter Marshall