By Nikita Espangel
Awards are usually given to those who finish first, mind second, more about or third, but very rarely are they given to those who finish 25th.
Benjamin Schulte, a 16 year old from Guam, might just be changing that trend and everyone in Micronesia can help.
For 2012, Schulte has been nominated as the World Open Water Swimming Association’s Man of the Year, following his performance at the London 2012 Olympics representing Oceania. Schulte made international news headlines competing in the 10K Open Water Marathon when he finished nearly 14 minutes behind gold medalist Oussama Mellouli of Tunisia, and more than nine minutes after Egypt’s Mazen Metwaly who finished 24th.
The award goes to the individual who among other things has most positively influenced the world of open water swimming during the year. The 16 year old has definitely done so in his perseverance during the Olympic event where by the fourth lap, as thoughts of quitting entered his mind, he told himself just to make it to the next buoy. As he made that buoy, he would then tell himself to quit at the next buoy. Such was how the 16 year old trained his mind to keep going. In the last two miles, what kept him gong even further was all the people who supported him who he could not let down. According to the association, his nomination is for “for his grit at never giving anything less than 100% [and] for his maturity and pride in embodying the Olympic ideal.” When thoughts of quitting entered his mind as he swam alone in front of 30,000 spectators, Ben would think of his coach’s words “if you finish, then you’re a true Olympian. If you don’t, then you just came here to swim.” Thousands cheered as he crossed the finish line.
Schulte, in inspiring many with his performance, is now currently neck-to-neck with Ireland’s legendary open water swimmer Stephen Redmond for WOWSA’s 2012 Man of the Year Award. As of this publication, Schulte leads Redmond by 159 votes with a total of 2,883 votes for the award.
Voting ends December 31st so cast your vote for this 16-year-old who taught us that sometimes just finishing makes you a winner.
Click here to cast your vote for WOWSA’s 2012 Man of the Year Award.
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By Nikita Espangel