Monday, July 25, 2005

FinishSTRONG

(Deborah Cannon/Austin American Statesman)
Lance Armstrong (center) celebrates Tour victory #7 (Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman)

Armstrong riding to victory on the Champs-Elysees (Deborah Cannon/Austin American-Statesman)

Are you convinced yet?

Are you willing to look outside your "3 major sport" frame of reference and name this guy the greatest North American athlete of all time?

Or are you going to be one of the haters who can't give the man his proper respect?

If you don't think the Tour De France is a physically demanding event, know this: you could eat a baker's dozen of donuts and still not come close replace the calories it takes to pedal a typical Tour De France stage.

Lance Armstrong did this for a full 3 weeks, and was the fastest man to do so. Seven years running.

You think cycling isn't a sport and you can do what he did? I don't see you rushing to sign up.

Yes, there are other athletes who have overcome cancer. While Mario Lemieux and John Cullen are both inspiring stories, neither has been close to the top of their sport after their cancer treatments. Heck, most people don't even sniff the same physical level after cancer treatment because of chemotherapy.

Lance Armstrong not only recovered, he won his sports' greatest event by himself. (Remember, there's no "Grand Slam" in cycling.) And he did it seven times, which is a record.

Let me repeat that for you: Armstrong won the Super Bowl of his sport a record 7 times by himself after undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Some of you still think he's a doper. Show me a positive test. And remember, unlike baseball's joke of a testing system, cycling requires blood tests. At random. They can tell you at any time, "Go to the medical trailer, we need a blood sample." A Whizzinator ain't gonna help you there, especially since they can test the DNA to make sure it's your blood. (Oh, by the way, they can test for a wider variety of performance enhancers and masking agents than any "Big 3" professional sport.)

Lance rides in an individual sport. Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky had to have teammates to succeed, as does any team sport athlete you can think of.

Tiger Woods is certainly the world's most physically gifted golfer, but it's still golf. And I don't think he would have won as many majors if he had gone through chemotherapy at the beginning of his pro career.

Even the greatest track athletes you can name exert energy over short periods of time, and for no longer than a few days at a time. They don't exert energy all day, every day for weeks.

So what's really keeping you from considering Armstrong as the greatest athlete?

Tomorrow: TBA
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