One man began a speech to his fellow college alumni with the statement, "Some of you are successes, and some of you are failures -- only God knows which are which!" There are many kinds of successes, many kinds of winners; and which is which may not at first be apparent.
Esther Kim is a true champion with a heartwarming story. She competed against her childhood friend, Kay Poe, in the U.S. Olympic Trials for her sport -- Taekwondo. Esther lost the match, but she went on to win all her other fights, which still qualified her for the finals.
Her friend, Kay, also won her successive matches. But in her last fight before the finals, disaster struck. Kay dislocated her knee and went down in great pain. Her knee was reset as she lay in agony on the mat. All the while, her friend Esther encouraged her from the sidelines to finish the fight. Courageously, Kay finally stood up and, on one good leg, concluded the match for a win.
The only contestants now remaining were Kay Poe, with an injured leg, and her friend, Esther Kim. One woman would be chosen from these trials for the Olympic team. "I looked at her with one good leg against me with two good legs," Esther Kim recalled, "and I said, 'It's not fair!'"
On the spot, Esther made a hard decision. She forfeited the match to her friend Kay, whose leg was sure to be fully healed for the 2000 Olympic Games. For her part, Kay bought Esther a ticket to Sydney, Australia, so she might watch and cheer from the stands.
"This was our dream, going to the Olympics," Esther said. "It's so hard! I have cried about it." But Esther discovered something important. "I gave her my dream," she said, "but for the first time ever, I feel like a champ." Esther Kim won a victory far greater than one fought on the mats. She won a victory of the spirit, which qualifies her as a true champion.
As Kay Poe's father remarked, "The champions aren't always the ones who have all the medals." No, sometimes they are cheering from the sidelines. For success and winning is often about victories won in the hidden recesses of the heart. And any of us who will fight and win such a victory will know the meaning of the word "success."