#259 true champion athlete

After watching the interview of Marion Jones-Thompson on the Oprah Show here in Singapore today, I was moved to tears as Marion stood out a true athlete and a champion.

Yes, she went to prison on March 2008 for six months for lying to Federal agents about UNKNOWINGLY taking performance-enhancement drugs during the Olympic Games in Sydney and she had apologised publicly to the world but in my heart Marion Jones will remain the fastest woman athlete. Sadly she will not return to running again.

She looks as beaming and beautiful today. Throughout the interview she fielded Oprah’s questions rather matter of factly with occasional tears and I could not, for a moment sense slight of bitterness.

From Oprah Show

Marion says was allowed to bring only a tiny number of personal possessions to jail with her—a Bible, a few photos, and a list of important addresses and phone numbers. Marion says she spent much of her six-month sentence writing to friends and family. “I learned that the only real way that I could communicate how I was feeling, how I was doing, with my family—in particular my husband—was to write long letters every day,” she says. “About important stuff, mundane stuff, my feelings on how I feel about the boys, where I’m at, who I’m meeting, the incredible stories that these women are sharing with me.”

Since her release, Marion says she has a newfound love for her freedom. “I appreciate so much more now the little things—going to the supermarket, being able to buy whatever I want,” she says. “There are days where I drive to pick up my son, and I just thank God that he’s given me the gift to do that. There are so many days when I was in prison when I had wished I could have … just held my kids or picked up the phone and called my best friend.”

While she was disappointed to be sent away, Marion says she believes her sentence was fair. “I believe in the legal system, Oprah, and I didn’t want to go,” she says. “Sure, I can compare my story to recent stories about other athletes or other people who were involved in certain situations and didn’t get much time. It would be easy to do that. It would be easy to point the finger and say, ‘It’s the judge.’ Or it’s that. But you know what? It’s me. I made the bad choice to put my future and my freedom in somebody else’s hands to make that choice for me. I did that. And because of that, I have to live with it.”

Marion says her experience has taught her to question other people’s motives. It has also forced her to realize she can no longer hide behind athletic prowess. “In the past, it was ‘Marion Jones, the athlete.’ And Marion Jones, the person, a lot of times, got to hide behind that. And while I was in prison, I learned that I used the athlete part of it all as a cover for a lot of my weaknesses. I think a lot of the choices that I made in the past were because of those weaknesses,” she says. “Now, of course, I don’t have that cover anymore and I have really had to find out who I am.”

With her life of athletic competition and very public legal ordeals behind her, Marion says she is eager for the future. “I am energized by this next chapter. I think really it’s going to be bigger and better than that last,” she says. “My goal now is to find out how to connect with people on a much bigger level. How can I help young people make certain choices and not make certain bad choices like I did? … What am I going to do with this negative experience and turn it into a positive?”

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