|Picture created by Lazy Beats. Awesomeness created by Robert Harting, a certified German hero.|
First test... Hero?
It is usually hyperbole when commentators tell you an athlete is a hero. Sure, we can admire them. But unless they break the 100m world record and do it so fast the world spins backwards so they can go back in time and right the wrongs of the past...
... or dive into the pool and receive all 10s, and the splash from the pool goes so far it waters the fields of drought-suffering farms and feeds the starving...
... or they high jump out the stadium like some type of flying amazonian woman, and into a burning building three streets down, where the firemen can't get to the orphan blind kittens, and so said athlete brings the little pusses in boots down to the street unharmed in a blanket.
... unless they do that, they still stand in Batman's shadow. He's a hero whose dark bat shadow hangs over that sporting event that is happening right now... whatever it is called?
I saw the final in the Christopher Nolan trilogy last night. It was great. But so I don't spoil it for you if you haven't seen it, I'll just say that Batman is pretty freakin' awesome, and leave it at that. He's a real hero. And by real, I mean not real. But still a real hero.
And you know what? Sometimes it hurts me, like really hurts me inside my muscle-bound chest - keeps me up all night - to think that Gotham City doesn't know the truth about Harvey Dent, or truly appreciate our favourite masked crusader. (Mind you, Adam West is still the best version in my honest opinion.)
Second test... Super?
I personally don't use the word "super" lightly. Even though I hear peoples say it super often. Super is a super special word, you know?
Perhaps reserve it for superman and other comic book characters who perform life saving acts with the aid of extraordinary powers. Powers that usually originate from a bite of a radioactive spider, or being covered in toxic ooze, or finding out your parents are aliens, although not like Spielberg E.T. aliens, but powerful humanoid ones.
Imagine if, instead of laser vision, super strength and the ability to fly, Superman's powers were building intergalactic telephones, making his finger light up and getting really homesick.
"Stop thief, or I'll point this glowing finger at you and get homesick... don't think I wouldn't."
Mind you, it would also be harder for E.T. to get a job at the Daily Planet. He could wear that head wrap, but he couldn't stay in the bicycle basket. It wouldn't be as easy as just putting some glasses on and changing his hairstyle.
Anyway, the word "super" needs to be earned. A supermarket, by definition, should sell capes, pet radioactive spiders and canisters of ooze. Not just a big shop full of s**** (I don't know why I censored the word "stuff", but I did, and you liked it).
And this leads me to the question on all our minds. The one that keeps us up at night when we forgive Gotham City for their treatment of the Dark Knight...
Does Robert Harting get the certified super hero tag?
If you don't know who Robert Harting, look him up right now. I'll wait.
Now, if you did what I suspect you did, you will not have looked him up, and will have just read on. You will also be wearing a blue shirt.
Man, if you are wearing a blue shirt and read on, I bet you just got freaked out then!!
Robert Harting is an Olympian who won the gold medal for throwing a round discus through the sky (not unlike your typical UFO).
That feat makes you strong. Like almost Bane strong. Somewhere between Bane strong and "tiger blood" strong.
Anyway, that doesn't make you a hero in itself. It makes you a role model with the kids... which has its own responsibilities, because as Spider Man says, "with great power comes great responsibility."
Snap! Yes, I did all that to set that joke up. Ouch.
Anyway, what puts Robbie Harting in the super hero category was what followed when he won. This man didn't just run and hug a woman in the crowd. He didn't just strut in front of the cameras. He didn't even just rip off his gear with his bare discus-throwing hands. He didn't just roar with masculine primordial awesomeness.
No. He then did a lap of the stadium, including doing an impromptu hurdles.
There has only ever in the history of human kind been a celebration better than Robert's. And that's when this guy was kicked off a 'B' grade reality TV show.
Sure, Dan, he threw a discus, got a gold medal in the Olympics, ripped his shirt off for the global audience, roared like a lion and jumped over hurdles... that makes him "super", sure, I'll give you that, but not necessarily a hero.
I hear you. No, I guess he didn't make the world spin backwards to go back in time and change the past for the better, or feed the poor and save the farmers, or rescue blind orphan kittens from a burning building.
But he did something more symbolic. He displayed to the world what the Olympics is about... or should be about. It's not about how many medals any given country won. Or whether Nike or Adidas won the most. Or even about some random event on a Greek mountain.
The Olympics - life - is about ripping your shirt off and doing hurdles. Life is to be enjoyed, not caring what anyone else around you thinks. It is about celebrating your victories with every particle of your finely crafted body.
Robert didn't care. He was being watched by the world, but he enjoyed what he had achieved.
So in the end, through his demonstration of human strength and joy, doesn't that make him a superhuman? In the end, isn't that what being a super hero is all about?
All the same, inspired me and made me smile, so still a hero in my books. Like Batman.