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  • Writer's pictureRohit Pansare

Recipe for a hero: Talking Lance Armstrong

How many of us have seen real life heroes, or for that matter, heroic acts being performed by someone? Media, internet and social networking sites are creating new heroes every single day, but really how do your define the term hero? 

Here are some definitions:

A man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength. 

(In absence of these qualities in ‘exceptional’ quantities, it looks rather difficult being called a hero!)

A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

( Again here ‘distinguished’ is the key word! A hero must be expected to stand apart from the crowd. The word ‘admired’ used here is rather interesting as it brings in the question of acceptance, You might be a hero for some but you might be a villain for others!)

A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities.

(This definition reminded me that the word heroine must also be considered, else my blog will lose its precious female followers and will be a little more unbiased!)

(Please note that I am ignoring the definitions like ‘lead character of a story or play etc…)

We have those that are constantly opposed by the powerful, who act defiantly in the face of adversity, facing the brutal challenges thrown at them with a single purpose that is to overcome, to survive. This breed is rare. Their work acts as an inspiration to many and provides a guiding light to those who have been flung in the dark corners of the earth with little room to spare or measures to heal themselves.

I fondly recollect the days I used to cycle to school. I fondly recollect my dreams of cycling in the Tour de France. That schoolboy’s dream since has been lost in the humdrum of routine and the grind of a so called adult life. An inspiration to us, and even to those that have not followed the world of cycle racing, Lance Armstrong, is a surviving legend. Atleast till the day USADA charged him with doping( Read USADA Pro-cycling investigation) and finally the Union Cycliste International (UCI) stripped him of his Tour de France titles on October 22nd, 2012 (read more in CNN’s complete coverage here). Now several hours have passed since Lance Armstrong has publicly accepted his participation in the doping scandal, that has shaken the world of Cycling (watch his interview with Oprah Winfrey). Lance is(or should I say ‘was’) a hero for the way he inspired people to succeed against all odds. Now as this image of Lance Armstrong is slowly peeled off exposing a vulnerable and should I dare to say a very human side of his, I wonder what really is the nature of heroism.

The story of Lance Armstrong is the story of the rise and fall of a public figure, fueled by the media and  corporations that had cashed in on his rise to popularity(or should I say heroism?). These same people have now swiftly withdrawn their support when his (their?) lies were exposed. The media will still cash-in on his fall from grace (Read Armstrong interview pulls 3.2 million viewers in US ). The big corporations have enough heroes with them to do their endorsements, so it won’t affect them in any way either. 

Courtesy: the official website of Livestrong

A man lost his way, made a few mistakes, encouraged by the nature of this world, climbed the pedestal, we built for him, several times, and finally got caught and questioned by the same people who  put him on the pedestal in the first place. In just a few days the life saving work done for cancer patients and their families by him through his organisation Livestrong has been erased and might also be questioned. Livestrong has however come out with its statement on its official website.

Lance the hero, who represented the force that fought cancer, survived, and helped others out of their misery, won several sporting challenges, undoubtedly faced several hurdles on the way to the top, moved & influenced millions of old & young people to live was reduced to tears in front of the world. The world lost a hero that it once, looked up to. Like one of the famous dialogue from the movie The Dark Knight “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself becoming the villain” (Aaron Eckhart – Harvey Dent/Two Face dialogue) RIP the ‘hero’- Lance Armstrong. Best wishes to Lance for his future ventures as one of us ‘humans’.

Image courtesy: Official Lance Armstrong  Website

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