We usually talk about Olympic sacrifice in the context of winners. After someone wins gold, we hear about how she spent her whole life working toward one event, giving up schooling and social life and putting herself through arduous physical pain for the single goal of competing in the Olympics.
But how about when an athlete goes through all that sacrifice to reach the starting block, then doesn’t even get a chance to compete?
Meet French hurdler Wilhem Belocian, who on Monday was scheduled to run his sole event of the Games, the 100-meter hurdles. Then this happened.
Wilhem Belocian false starts in his first Olympics.
— NBC Olympics (@NBCOlympics) August 16, 2016
International track has a zero-tolerance policy on false starts, to prevent runners and hurdlers from trying to steal a head-start every single race. The rule makes plenty of sense, but it’s still pretty darn brutal. Usain Bolt was famously disqualified from the 100-meter sprint at the 2011 World Championship.
But at least Bolt had plenty of chance to redeem himself. Belocian worked his whole life for that moment, then it ended before it started, literally. To see him pounding the track in frustration, whew that’s real tough.
What’s worse than the agony of defeat? How about the agony of not getting to compete?