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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view joelsdb's profile
    Posted January 17, 2013 by
    joelsdb
    Location
    Jerusalem, Israel
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Lance Armstrong speaks out

    More from joelsdb

    The Color Yellow

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Catholic priest joelsdb was an avid fan of Lance Armstrong, and even witnessed him participate in the 2003 Tour de France (that's Armstrong in the third photo, recieving the iconic yellow jersey at the end of one stage). He sees himself as a betrayed fan, but his faith also encourages him to see another side to the story. "He finally told the painful truth. He did apologize. That takes a lot of courage," he said. "People would always forgive if they see real remorse. One of the things I tell people is to hate the sin, not the sinner." Despite praising Armstrong for his "courage" in coming clean, he still thinks at times in the interview he came across as an "egotistical monster", and feels the disgraced cyclist must do more to repair his image. "I guess in his confession he needs to humble himself more and sound less arrogant," he said. "That's the only way he can win back the hearts of his disappointed and betrayed followers."
    - sarahbrowngb, CNN iReport producer

    Since 2003, the color yellow has made an enduring dent on my memory. Every summer after that event, I took on the role of a spectator to join many others watch a spectacle, to witness a display of heart and endurance in the world’s most prestigious cycling event: the Tour de France.

     

    In July of 2003, as I did a course in the French language at Angers, I was surrounded by people who spent their afternoon watching the Tour. I had heard of it before, but my stay in France made me love it. I was so taken up by this that I went to Nantes to witness Lance Armstrong retain his yellow jersey and assure him of a convincing victory over Germany’s Jan Ullrich, his closest rival that year.

     

    The day is still vivid in my mind… Pornic to Nantes: the penultimate stage… Individual Time Trial… Strong rain all day in Nantes… Ullrich and Armstrong, in second and first, respectively, and therefore the last ones to start. Ullrich, who trailed Armstrong by only 65 seconds at the start of the stage, takes a spill… Armstrong, taking second place in the stage, pads his lead over his closest rival… British rider David Millar wins the stage… This was the day I encountered Ivan Basso (see picture), previous winner of the white jersey, and the one who would be runner up to Lance Armstrong in 2005. And with my poor instamatic camera (which is now a thing of the past), I had some pictures taken (shown here).

     

    It was the yellow jersey won by Armstrong that made me a fan of cycling as it was a showcase of what the human spirit could achieve even after a fall. It was always a side story every year: Armstrong was a cancer survivor. Still in 2003, some stages before the Pornic-Nantes stage, I watched Armstrong rise from a fall in the climb to Luz Ardiden. What could I do that time, but admire such tremendous determination. And there was Armstrong—yellow jersey to savor in the end of the stage and eventually in the end of the Tour. It was his fifth that year. He would go on to win two more before he retired (and then again, return later).

     

    The preceding paragraphs I had recounted many times with gusto. Le Tour was always a ready fare for my talks and the color yellow was always part of the souvenirs I kept. A friend gave me a treasured Livestrong bracelet.
    But we have just seen what can happen through time—that heroes whose praises we have sung turned out to have stories that we would not want to hear. And we who have savored every thrilling moment of the stages, the struggles to the summit and the sprint in the flats—we feel a stale and bitter aftertaste of having indulged in the excitement of a sport that is now tainted.

     

    I have watched Oprah’s interview with Armstrong.  Knowing the truth may be painful but in many aspects, relieving.  The Livestrong bracelet is tucked away among things unused. 2003 was the year I began my Tour de France journey; 2013 is the year I tuck away my role as spectator—just like the Livestrong bracelet.

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