[VIEWPOINT]Taking cues from Armstrong

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[VIEWPOINT]Taking cues from Armstrong

On July 24, when the entire country was struggling with the suffocating heat and the wiretapping case, news came from Paris that Lance Armstrong won his seventh straight victory in the Tour de France, the international cycling race.
In the world, there are things that are more than a miracle, and Lance Armstrong’s seventh straight Tour de France win is one of them.
Lance Armstrong, 33, was on the verge of death after getting testicular cancer in 1996 when he was 26. Though his cancer had a 49 percent mortality rate, he miraculously survived major surgery that removed a testicle and part of his brain tissue.
Afterward, he sought ways to use himself in the most wonderful and constructive manner. After agonizing over it, Armstrong decided to enter the Tour de France, which challenges the limits of human beings and has been called “a race of death.”
Armstrong dramatically won the Tour de France title in his first entry in the summer of 1999. The media that watched his victory called it a miracle.
The next year, he entered the race again and won again. The media around the world shouted in one voice that he made a “myth.”
All attention about the Tour de France from 2001 since then has been focused on whether Armstrong will win the race again. In the Tour de France, where competitors have to bike more than 3,500 kilometers in total in the scorching heat, he won again in 2002, in 2003, and in 2004, and finally achieved the seventh victory by winning the race this year.
What on earth enabled him to win seven times in the Tour de France? There are three reasons.
The first reason is Armstrong’s unbelievable heart and lung function. The second is coach Johan Bruyneel’s perfect strategic ability. The third is the team play based on the sacrifice of his teammates.
Armstrong’s cardiovascular capacity is incomparable to others. He can put a lot of distance between himself and the runner-up, particularly in the mountainous terrain when the race crisscrosses the Pyrenees and the Alps.
Also, proper distribution of physical strength and exact operation of strategy are essential in the Tour de France, as participants have to get through more than 3,500 kilometers for about three weeks under extreme heat.
Had it not been for the excellent operation of strategy by Bruyneel, of Belgium, Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles might not have been possible.
In addition, it would have been difficult for Lance Armstrong to achieve his seventh consecutive victory without his devoted teammates. His teammates did not work for their victory but for the victory of Lance Armstrong.
His teammates ran in front of him to fend off the wind and played the role of a pacemaker to prevent him from overreaching. Also, by holding in check the cyclists from other teams. they helped Armstrong move forward without obstacles toward the great achievement of seven years of dominance.
In sum, Armstrong’s qualifications, Coach Bruyneel’s strategy and his teammates’ sacrificial actions enabled him to win the seventh straight Tour de France title.
But these are not all. There is another invisible reason: Armstrong’s indefatigable will “to run even if there is only 1 percent of hope.”
People generally hesitate to try when there is only half a possibility. But Armstrong did not hesitate to take up the challenge even if there was only 1 percent of possibility and hope. This was the genuine driving force for the former testicular cancer patient who was once on the verge of death. It pushed him to become the hero of seven Tours de France and accomplishing what that no one else could achieve.
Moreover, thanks to the alchemy of his mind that changed negative things to the positive ones, bearing deep in mind his mother’s advice to that effect, Lance Armstrong came to stand before us now as a true hero of this age.
We are in a world where it is hot and irritating. But the race of life goes on today as well. To win, there should be qualifications, strategy and team play.
But critically, we should be able to switch the negative to the positive and run even if there is only 1 percent of hope. Then we can be a champion in the race of life.

* The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Chung Jin-hong
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