The tendency to recognize and celebrate heroic achievement is rooted deep in the human psyche.
When China’s star hurdler Liu Xiang crashed to the ground because of a recurring Achilles tendon injury during the recent Olympics, a Chinese state broadcast announcer openly wept.
Earlier, when Khani James of Ghana won the semifinal 400-meter track event, he immediately turned to pay tribute to South African Oscar Pistorius who had finished last.
Pistorius is the much admired “blade runner” who races with carbon fiber prosthetics attached to his partially amputated legs.
Indian grandmaster Viswanathan Anand, who successfully defended his world chess title in June, was met at his native Chennai airport by an exhilarated and effusive crowd wearing “Anand” masks. Many carried placards reading: “You have brought Anand to a billion hearts.”
Echoing the adulation, former world champion Alexander Khalifman declared: “Anand is a genius, he emanates light.”
“I was inspired by Anand. I have always been motivated by him,” said India’s youngest grandmaster Parimarjan Negi.
According to S.R. Madhu of the Indian newspaper the Hindu, Anand embodies virtues that are prized in his country:
“Like cricket idol Tendulkar, Anand has a reputation for humility, fairness and impeccable conduct.”