PHOENIX, Arizona, August 1. SWIMMING World has been given permission to reprint a letter from Olympian Bruce Furniss written to Texas head coach Eddie Reese regarding Brendan Hansen's experience at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials.
Here is the letter in its entirety:
Congratulations to you on the performance of your kids at Trials. Be sure to tell Scott Spann congratulations on his son making the team. You all must be so proud!
I am writing in hopes that you will pass along to Brendan Hansen my comments as I do not have his email address…and besides, he wouldn't know me from a hot rock. I want to express to him what an impressive young man he is and what a wonderful example he is in his conduct. As a father of four in aquatic sports, it does not go unnoticed by parents like me out there when a great athlete stumbles and has a bad race or day, and in doing so, doesn't pout or duck the media (like Track Athlete Jeremy Wariner did yesterday), or make any excuses for himself. Brendan's television deck interview after his race made me a fan of his for life. He gave plaudits to his teammates, was pleased for their successes and in doing so, adhered to the fact he did his best…no excuses, not a one!
I have, as many of us have, had similar difficult moments (jumping on a WR setting 800 relay in '75 Worlds or getting DQ'd in my last career race at the '80 Olympic Trials) and struggled to maintain my composure and dignity in a very public moment. I, for one, know exactly how hard it must have been for him to address the media (many, I'm sure gleeful Japanese) so quickly after his race and he did so with such remarkable composure. He is extraordinary! I am certain you and his parents must be beaming with pride.
Many years from now, long after his days as a world class competitive swimmer are over, he will look fondly upon that moment with great pride, and upon further reflection, will realize it might just be his finest moment…not only just as an athlete, but as a man, a husband or father. His recall of that moment will provide the ingredients of a wonderful story. That moment will shape future generations, most likely and most importantly, it will someday influence his own kids.
Sorry for my long windedness, but I was so moved and affected by his conduct I just wanted him to know that others out there appreciate what he has done and how he has conducted himself. Hopefully as the sting of that bitter moment dissipates, Brendan will be buoyed by the bigger issue of the moment…how true Champions should always conduct themselves. It is easy to have great conduct and character in victory, but few are able to do it in defeat. Brendan did, and my family for one, will always remember it. Moments like that are what really separates the great ones…and he is every bit of that.
Regards and best wishes,