Lance Armstrong, for those of you who don’t know him, no hes not the guy that landed on the moon. In Fact in my eyes, Lance Armstrong overcame something much harder than that. Lance Armstrong is one of the many people who has had to face the deadly sickness of testicular cancer. As well as that he has shocked the world many times by his consecutive cycling world records and is now considered one of the most inspirational athletes to this day. Good-aye, I’m Daniel O’Donnell and this is Lances story.
On the 18th of September 1971, Lance Gunderson was born. He was raised by a solo mum with no fatherly figure in his life, and It wasn’t until he was 4 that his mum married a man named terry Armstrong. Terry then legally adopted him and Lance was officially renamed to the Lance Armstrong we know today. His parents were far from wealthy, and Lance found it hard to make friends at school as he wasn’t good at any sports. Overall, life seemed pretty tough, but despite this he never complained and would always have a positive mindset on accomplishing his goals. Because of this it wasn’t long before lances glorious professional career sprung into action.
When lance turned 10 he joined the local swimming club. He fell in love with the sport and by the age of 12 he was already 4th in his state. He trained every morning and night and would often swim around 6 miles a day. If we put that into perspective that’s 9.6 kilometers or 384 laps of a swimming pool, now i’m no swimmer but that’s a lot of laps! Because of this mindset of determination and hard work It didn’t take long until he was transformed from a normal kid into a world class athlete. When he was 14 he began to focus more on triathlon which he dominated in his state. Not long after, he made the decision to solely focus on cycling as it was his strongest and favorite event. This was clearly a good idea, because by the time Lance was 16 he had already made it into the US Olympic Development Team.
After that Lances career began Skyrocketing. Each cycling competition he entered he would do better and better in. It felt like he was unstoppable, from sponsor to sponsor he was pulling in that cash money. In 1993 he managed to win a stage of The Tour de France, which is the biggest road cycling race in the history of the sport, It’s a 23 day race and the riders have to cover a distance of around 3,500 km from start to finish.
Unfortunately this instant success didn’t last as long as Lance had hoped for, because just after his 3rd Tour de France in 1996 he fell ill. At first, all he noticed was a slight funny feeling in his balls, specifically his right testicle. The pain kept getting worse and as his balls grew bigger and bigger Lance began to worry. When he finally couldn’t take the pain anymore he visited his doctor, and on that night of October 2nd 1996 Lance Armstrong was diagnosed with stage 3 testicular cancer. The cancer was so advanced that it had already spread into his brain lungs and abdomen. The doctors already knew that unless a miracle occurred he was going to die. They gave him a 20 to 40% chance of living, manly to give him hope, but with the kind of cancer he had there was almost no hope left for Lance. He was completely shattered, from being on top of the world and then in a split second on the road to death shows how fast things can change. With the odds lance was facing it would seem a lot easier to just give up, he would have to undergo months of surgery and chemotherapy which might not even get rid of the cancer. Despite what everyone said Lance decided to stay strong and fight it out. It took 6 months and a whole lot of drugs but by February 1997 Lance Armstrong was declared cancer free. This shows that no matter how bad someone’s situation is there is always hope. As Lance said himself, “Hope, there can and should be a life after cancer for everyone, and I want people to know that.”
Now you might think that this is the end of the story, but no it didn’t stop there. After cancer Lance was more determined than ever to get back on his bike. His sickness clearly hadn’t shaken him as in 1998 he began his nasty comeback. He yet again proved to himself and the rest of the world that he was still the best of his sport as In 1999 He won his first ever Tour De France. He also went on to win the next 6 consecutive Tour De France races making him the GOAT of road cycling in his time.
However, Once again Lances success came to a halt, and this time it was for good. Many people began to question how he was winning all these races, and conspiracies involving the use of doping is what completely blew his career apart. In 2010 The FBI decided to conduct an official investigation on Lance Armstrong based on the hundreds of claims that had now be made against him. After a long drawn out process and with the authorities it had become clear that Lance did indeed cheat on all 7 Tour de France competitions he won by using Performance Enhancing Drugs. When the news got out it shocked the world and despite the fact he was an inspirational athlete who had overcome cancer, his fans fully turned on him and he was treated as a cheat and a complete fraud. This shows that even though Lance has done great things, people will instantly turn on you based on what the media says so. I’m not saying what Lance did was right, But do you think he deserved the hate and abuse he had to face from his fans and the media? Personally, I still think he is a great inspirational athlete who has accomplished and overcome sickness regardless of the other bad things he has done.
So to wrap things up I hope that you have learnt a little more about Lance Armstrong and realized that he is not just the cheat the everyone makes him out to be and that he is in fact a man that has overcome big things in is life. Some lessons we can learn from him are to not do drugs and the fact that there is always hope no matter what the odds are. I’m Daniel O’Donnell and That’s all that I have for today so thank you for listening to my speech.