In Between Medals

We don’t actually have a bronze medal.  We don’t have a silver medal, either.  We have a beautiful setting and frame made out of native New Zealand rimu wood (thanks to Chris Fayen!), but it’s been empty for some months now.

Most people reading this blog are probably familiar with why we’re in this predicament, but just in case you’re not, here’s the story. For us, it was a pretty long story—one that involved lots of waiting and praying over the last year—but when the decision finally came out that Nick would be moved up to silver, we were overjoyed.

Of course, that joy is bittersweet. Sure, we’re happy to see justice served, but at the same time, we wish the situation could be different. We wish performance-enhancing drugs were not so common; we wish Rashid Ramzi would not have chosen to use them; we wish that the whole race would have been different—would have been clean. The men who deserved to be standing on that podium were not there. Asbel Kiprop missed out on hearing Kenya’s national anthem.  Medhi Baala missed being on the podium entirely.

Nick has said that compared to those two, he thinks his loss is the least of all.  He was able to be on the podium and come home with a medal. We celebrated. We cried. He was recognized by his country for his achievement. Silver is a step up for sure. It’s pretty crazy to think he only needs to improve one more place next time to win gold. But we don’t feel completely robbed in the experience the way I imagine Baala and Kiprop do.

It was a little sad to part with Nick’s bronze.  Nick was in New Zealand and I was in Michigan when we found out we needed to mail it to the IOC so they could send the silver.  I took the medal to the nearest Fed Ex and packed it tightly in a box and paid for all the additional securing expenses. On the form, I was supposed to fill out the “value” of the item being shipped. I thought about writing “priceless” in the blank but then decided against it. Confused by some of the paperwork, I enlisted help from the man at the desk. He asked me what I was mailing.  I felt a little funny answering that it was an Olympic medal. Later, as I was leaving, he asked if he could guess what event I won it in.  Laughing, I corrected him and explained it wasn’t mine. Slightly curious, I asked him what event he was going to guess.  Dressage, he answered.

That was several months ago now.  We had hoped that the silver medal would be mailed to the New Zealand Olympic Committee while we were in New Zealand in March. But the IOC took a long time to mail it and by the time it was sent we were back home in Michigan. It seemed too anti-climatic to receive the medal in a Fed Ex package at our front door. So we opted to wait until we were next in New Zealand where we could have a celebration and a ceremony of some kind.

It’s a good thing we decided to wait because a few weeks ago we received an email from the NZOC with some surprising news.They told us that the silver medal had arrived in New Zealand but that there was a slight problem with it. When they opened the box, they noticed that the medal was scratched and the strap had frayed—the medal the IOC had sent was used. I don’t know if it was Asbel Kiprop’s old medal or someone else’s, but it clearly wasn’t new.  The NZOC told us that they called the IOC up and told them that was completely unacceptable.  They were sending the medal back and demanding that the IOC send a new one.  The IOC revealed that they didn’t have any more new silver medals and that’s why they had tried to pass off the used one. They eventually agreed to the NZOC’s request though and, as we speak, are having a new silver medal made. Of course, that will take some time. So we’ll just have to wait a little longer for Nick’s silver.

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