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Two Inspirational Stories

Kerri Strug (Image Source: www.youtube.com)





Irena Sendler, Kerri Strug and Neerja Bhanot. Somehow I feel I am suddenly bombarded with the inspirational stories of women. I am glad I got to know about these great women at least now. I have a habit of listening to audio columns by Gollapudi Maruthi Rao, an actor and a writer in Telugu film industry. I might not agree with his perspective on some of the issues but I listen to those with a hope of enlightening myself about things I don't know. While I was going through his old columns I came across two columns, one is about Irena Sendler and the other one is about Kerry Shrug. Neerja Bhanot is another great woman about whom I came to know from the movie that was made recently, I am sure most of you will watch it so I am not going to touch about her.

Irena Sendler
When I came to know the story of Irena Sendler I felt that I could never do what she has done and never achieve what she has achieved. A Poland citizen by birth was appointed to repair pumps and clean wastewater streams when Germany occupied Poland during World War II. It was the time when Germans were on a row of killing Jews in Poland, so she decided she is not just going to complete her duty but also save as many children belonging to Jew community as possible. So while she goes to the work she used to carry a bag and a toolbox. And, while coming back she used to carry children in the box with her and hide them somewhere once she takes them out of the area occupied by Germans. The interesting part in this is, she used to take a dog with her which she had trained to bark when the children in the box start crying. She was well aware that she will be killed cruelly if someone from Nazi camp catches her. Being someone who is just 23 years old doesn't need to take such a big risk, that too not for her but for others. But she did and saved 2500 children. The cruelty of Nazis has lost its battle with her tenacity to save children. Just imagine, saving one person itself is a tremendous achievement, she has given life to 2500 children.

Finally, in 1943 while she was carrying a child with her she was caught by Nazi soldiers. They tortured her, broke her hands and legs and sentenced her to death. While she was being taken by the soldiers to implement the death sentence, the organization which she was working for has bribed Nazi soldiers to release her. But it was announced to the public that she was killed by the Nazi Soldiers. After the war, recognizing her greatness Israel government has honoured her with the country’s highest civilian award. She was also honoured by Poland with its highest civilian award. When you know what she has done for humanity, you don’t get any words to express how great she is. I don’t think anyone I know would have done such a brave act knowing that they’ll be killed if caught. We can confidently and proudly put her name along with greats like Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi.

Now comes one more lady by name Kerri Strug. Getting a chance to perform at the Olympics is something great by any standard. But Kerri Strug, with her performance, made the heart of the spectators skip a beat during 1996 Olympics, during which she was part of the American Gymnastics team. In Gymnastics to successfully complete the performance, one has to jump from the vault after performing on it and stand steady for a reasonable amount of time, which can be a minute or so. After the second round of performance, she has injured her ankle, everyone in the team and even the spectators noticed that she has trouble with her ankle. She has one more round to complete to win the medal.

No one, including her, has expected Kerri to go for the third round. But her coach has encouraged her by saying that she is not just a woman but a hope of a country. She stopped the tears rolling out of her and started to walk towards the vault with great difficulty. She just took a step, performed on the vault and jumped into the air to land. There was a dead silence, everyone was hoping that she will be able to complete. Finally, she landed on her feet which made some more bones to break but she stood still and successfully completed the performance. She stood for a minute, which has guaranteed a goal medal for her country and stumbled on the ground. Her coach Karolyi has carried her in his hands to the podium to receive the gold medal. This is not just a story of an Olympic medalist but a story of 18-year-old girl's determination and focus.

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