If I were to ask you, what was the greatest sporting performance of the last 50 years, what would your answer be?
The answer to the question is a subjective opinion. There are many sports that you could consider. There are the great Olympic performances: Michael Phelps, Ian Thorpe or Husain Bolt. There have been great team performances in football, soccer and ice hockey; tennis greats––Bjorn Borg, Steffi Graf or Roger Federer, and skiing standouts such as Jean-Claude Killy.
My pick, however, is not a human, but a horse––the great Secretariat. In June of 1973, he accomplished what is rarely accomplished on the American racing scene, winning the triple crown. For those of you unfamiliar with horse racing, the Triple Crown refers to the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.
Secretariat had already won the first two legs handily all in record time; then it was on to Belmont on June 9. There were only four other horses willing to challenge him in that race. At the start of the race, the only “serious” contender was Sham. He kept pace with Secretariat in the early going, but on the back straight, Secretariat started to pull away and continued to leave the rest of the field behind. The race announcer referred to his, “moving like a great machine”. By the time he crossed the finish line, he had won by a staggering 31 lengths and shattered the world record for the mile-and-a-half by more than two seconds! That record still stands today.
I was living in Canada, when he ran his final race in Toronto, also in record time, after which he was retired to stud. People tried to assess what it was that led to his greatness. One reason put forth was his leg stride angle that was larger than that of any other horse.
Following his death in 1989 they found another reason for his prowess. An autopsy revealed something interesting; his heart was twice the size of the average racehorse––he had a big heart in more ways than one.
Editor’s Note: Dr Adele Thomas, semi-retired medical doctor and Dr Ely Lazar, retired chiropractor, are on a new mission as the Passionate Retirees. They are dedicated to inspiring the over 50s to live fulfilling and adventurous lives, so that “the twilight years will be the highlight years”. Their book, “Travel Secrets For Seniors” was released in early 2014. With more than 80 years combined of professional experience, their articles, books and workshops cover a range of topics from travel, health, relationships, sexuality and finances for seniors.
“Adele and Ely have always impressed me with their exceptional knowledge, professionalism and positive attitude. Mention their name and the one word that always comes up is respect.” – John Ross, Master Networker