Sports Star Exhibit
By Quazi Zulquamain Islam
If scripted by Hollywood, Lance Armstrong's life story would probably be dismissed as a trite melodramatic. A deadly disease strikes a promising athlete. Despite desperately thing odds, he manages to not only beat the affliction but return to the sport and win its top prize. Unbelievable, except its the truth.
The story of Lance Armstrong however, does not end on the finish lines of the Tour de France. His experience made him part of a cancer community and motivated him to unleash the same passion and drive he does in bike races to the fight against cancer. Since making history in 1999, he has won cyclist biggest prize six more times and has become arguably the most recognized sportsperson of his era.
The Early Years
The story of Lance Armstrong is indeed a heartbreaking one and he would be cast perfectly in the role of a hero struck by tragedy all through his life. Born on September 18, 1971 in Plano, Texas Lance was abandoned by his biological father when he was still a child. Lance later took the name of the man who married his mother and adopted him, Terry Armstrong.
There was very little money, but his mother worked hard to provide him with a good life. When he was seven-years-old, she worked out a deal with the local bike store and bought him a Schwinn Mag Scrambler. The rest, as they say was history.
He soon started riding every day. Some days Armstrong would cycle all the way to Oklahoma and would have to call his mom to come pick him up. Eventually, Armstrong was able to bike home himself and started entering amateur races. During his senior year of high school, he moved to Colorado to train with the US Olympic development team for cycling.
Armstrong competed in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, where he placed 14th in the road race. After the Olympics, Armstrong turned pro and joined the Motorola cycling team.
His pro career however didn't get off to a great start, as he finished dead last in his first race. But in 1993, Armstrong won the World Road Race Championship in Oslo, Norway and by 1996 was the seventh-ranked cyclist in the world.
The Cancer Experience
Seemingly at the top of his game the only way for Lance now was up. But in late 1996 his world came crashing down around him.
After competing in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Armstrong started to feel tired and weak and couldn't race as well as he used to. In October of 1996, then ranked number-one in the world, Armstrong was diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer after an excruciating pain he felt while riding his bike. Doctors found that the cancer had spread to his lungs and his brain and was considered potentially life threatening. At best doctors only gave him a 40 percent chance of surviving.
Most people would break down upon being given news like that. However not only did it not dishearten Armstrong it didn't even stop him from believing he could race again. In addition to two operations (one to remove the cancerous testicle, another to remove the cancer from the back of his brain), Armstrong was given a more potent, borderline experimental form of chemotherapy to combat the cancer. The treatment was successful, and miraculously only five months after his diagnosis he began riding once again.
Lance Armstrong returned to competitive cycling in 1998, and in 1999 he entered the grueling Tour de France - a 2,274 mile race through the Alps. For him and other cancer victims all over the world, it was already a victory. But for the man showing up was not enough.
Armstrong dominated the race from start to finish and won the event by nearly seven minutes. Lance's amazing comeback from cancer made Armstrong a world-wide celebrity and an inspiration for other people with cancer.
Since returning to competitive cycling, Lance Armstrong became the world's most dominant force on two wheels. He went on to win the Tour de France a record seven straight times! Armstrong won his seventh and final Tour de France by more than four minutes, cementing himself as one of America's greatest athletes of all time.
Lance has founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation to benefit cancer research and the Lance Armstrong Junior Race Series to promote cycling and racing for American kids.
More than 40 million of Lance Armstrong's "Live Strong" yellow bracelets have been sold all over the world to raise money for cancer research.
Lance Armstrong is as of now separated from Kristin Richard. They have a son, Luke and twin daughters, Isabella and Grace.
Of late, Lance Armstrong has been seeing singer Sheryl Crow.
Lance Armstrong is a man who has defeated cancer, the Alps and the small matter of every other cyclist on the planet. Although he has retired, no matter what his path from here on, he will travel it with the sure knowledge that everyday is precious and that every single step matters.
"Cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. For one thing it gave me a perspective on life”
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