The 2004 Olympic Bronze Medal Story
At the 2004 Olympic Games, I raced the best points race of my life and I crossed the finish line in fourth place. I was ecstatic, and then I realized Iíd just taken fourth at the Olympics. GRRRRRRRR. Some say that fourth is the worst place to take at the Olympics, but I can tell them from experience, that 13th feels much worse. Iíd gone to the Olympics wanting to, win or lose, be able to say that Iíd raced my best. I had accomplished that. Several days later, I found out that the bronze medallist had tested positive for a banned substance and that the bronze medal was going to be awarded to me. I was elated, but I have to admit I felt a little cheated that I hadnít been able to participate in the awards ceremony. I ended up having a very special ceremony back in the states and had a great time being the bronze medallist. Then, fourteen months later, I got some devastating news. There had been several appeals and the Court of Arbitration of Sport had decided to overturn their decision. I had no previous knowledge of any appeal and had no clue that this was coming. The United States Olympic Committee didnít even know about it. We were completely blindsided. I went through every range of emotion: denial, anger, embarrassment, depression, bewilderment, etc. Everyone wanted to know what I thought and what I wanted to do. The United States Olympic Committee hired an attorney for me to speak with. At first, I was praying that it was just a bad dream and that Iíd wake up and it would all be over. After a day or so, I found myself paying that God would just let what ever was right happen. I decided to send the medal back and this is why. If she hadnít cheated, then she had earned the medal and it belonged to her. I had always been proud of my fourth place performance and being awarded the bronze medal hadnít changed that. I didnít really see the point of fighting it anyway. Even if I got to keep the medal, it would never feel the same; it would always be tainted. Iíd always wonder if it were supposed to be hanging around someone elseís neck. Mailing back that medal was one of the hardest things Iíve ever done, but I am completely at peace with it. I know I did the right thing. There are more important things than a medal, even an Olympic one. Now as a mom, I understand that even more.