Oct 8, 2007

Still A Champion (Despite The Actions of a Cheater)



State champion.

National champion.

Hall of famer.

Olympic gold metalist.

Until last week, LaTasha Colander was all of these. She won a gold metal in the 4X400 Meter Relay at the Sydney Olympics of 2000. And she was fast. She was always fast as long as I knew her. We weren't friends in the traditional sense. We had common friends at Wilson High, but we rarely came across each other in the halls. She was a year ahead of me as well. But my school and my city was proud of her and her efforts. In 2000, the city gave here a homecoming parade to celebrate her Olympic victory. My then three-year old cousin even posed with her and wore the gold metal around his neck (I would have shared this photo with you, but some bastard stole my photography portfolio, which included the photo AND the negatives, that semester). It was a proud moment for Woodrow Wilson High School (where Perry Ellis held his first ever fashion show and where Missy Elliott first performed) and a grander moment for Portsmouth, VA, which had began its transformation into a world-class city.

Last week's announcement from Marion Jones stating she had used steroids during the Sydney games came as a shock to a lot of people. The International Olympic Committee's decision to strip her of her metals also came as no surprise. However, one of those metals that was stripped from her was the one she won for the 4X400 M Relay.

The one that Tasha won.

Needless to say, this decision has been frustrating to me, not just because I know Tasha, but because the actions of one will affect two other deserving athletes as well. My love for Marion Jones wasn't tarnished from last week's announcement. No, that occurred during the Athens games in 2004 when I felt she purposely dropped the baton in the 4X400 M relay. Tasha was a part of that team as well.

I don't know if she'll compete next year in China, which is a shame. After a stellar high-school and collegiate career, Latasha Colander has done what so many had dreamed of. It's unfair that the act of one will cost others their metals as well. Regardless, she'll still be a champion to me.

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