Posts Tagged ‘grace under pressure’

Tonight the world witnessed not only the brilliant performance of a Olympic figure skater, but one of the most poignant displays of courage ever seen. Just two days after her mother’s death from a sudden heart attack, Joannie Rochette took to the ice in the women’s short programme, and skated in her honour.

Commentators at the Olympics told stories all week of the closeness between Therese Rochette and Joannie, that her mother was a hard honest critic but also her staunchest supporter. Mere hours after arriving in Vancouver to watch her daughter compete, Therese Rochette was dead. She was only fifty-five, and had no history of heart trouble.

One can only imagine the shock of her loss, and the irony of such sorrow at a time that should have been the high point in Joannie Rochette’s life. And the inevitable question arises. How did this young woman find the courage to put her sorrow aside tonight and do what her mother would have wanted?

It wasn’t for lack of feeling. The tears broke through the minute her programme ended, and she bent over, hands on knees to regain her composure. Around the world, hundreds of thousands of people, immeasurably moved by her performance and personal strength, wept with her. Still, she never crumbled, didn’t collapse in grief as many expect we would under the circumstances. Instead, she stood back up, straightened her shoulders and graciously thanked the crowd, who were by then on their feet. The ovation and outpouring of love must have seemed surrreal. She skated towards the place where her coach stood, and it was only then that the world heard her sobs.

The late Ernest Hemingway called courage “grace under pressure.” We witnessed it tonight in Joannie Rochette. and I doubt any of us will ever forget it.

Your grace and bravery inspired the world tonight, Joannie. Somewhere, your mother is smiling.


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