Many are not familiar with the name Tonya Harding. Hers is a story of competitiveness and eagerness to triumph gone wrong. As a father,brother and uncle, I have daughters,sisters and nieces that compete in sports and spelling bees and I do my utmost to encourage them to not only pursue the victory but to also enjoy the experience amid the despair of defeat. But once in a while I see parents who want their kids to win so bad that they take all kinds of shortcuts to influence referees, sabotage competitors and murder(yes it has happened before google beauty pageant rival murder).So who is Tonya Harding.
Tonya Harding is an American figure skater born in Portland USA in 1970. Harding,now preferring to be called Tonya Price,was first introduced to figure skating by her mom at the age of 3. She continued practising figure skating until in high school she quit in her sophomore year to pursue it full time. How does figure skating play out you ask. Ok here is how it happens.
Figure skating is a winter sport that consists of singular or partners moving on the ice in a pattern. The judges score according to the artistic impression skaters make on them. It is mainly a winter Olympic sport. The pinnacle of any figure skater is Olympic gold.
After turning pro, Harding competed in competitions such as Skate America. In 1991 she won the American national championship. She did a move called a triple axel,one of the most difficult moves in the sport. Her downfall began whilst competing in the winter Olympic trials in 1994 in Detroit. Her biggest rival, Nancy Kerrigan was practising at a ice rink in the city when a man without provocation hit her on the head with a club. Now here is where it all becomes interesting.
Investigations will lead to Harding’s husband of the day, Jeff Gillooly. Apparently Jeff approached one Shawn Eckhadt to possibly eliminate Harding’s threat, Kerrigan, from the competition. Shawn set up a meeting with a other pair Derrick Smith and Shane Stant who agreed to do the dirty work for a fee.
Upon his arrest,Jeff Gillooly agreed to implicate Harding to the assault. Initially Tonya denied involvement in the assault but later admitted knowing about the attack after the fact. She fought the attempts by the US Olympic committee to ban her from the Olympics and succeeded. She performed below par at the event finishing 8th whilst her erstwhile nemesis Kerrigan took home the silver. Tonya Harding’s ban from the sport and subsequent stripping of her national title was confirmed in 1994.
This is a lesson to athletes and family of athletes alike. Take it easy winning isn’t everything. We can’t all fit in top of that podium.