One of the most remarkable stories I heard recently was about an amazing feet of composure and determination at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Twenty six year old Japanese gymnast named Shun Fujimoto, while doing the Floor Routine he fractured his kneecap (patella) in his right leg. The patella when broken is a very excruciatingly painful injury and causes the whole of the leg to be very weak. When it happened he said “I felt an odd and painful sensation in my right knee”, he also said later that “it felt hollow as if there was air in it”
Fujimoto knew that if he pulled out now, it would put his teams chances in jeopardy of achieving a Gold medal, so he told nobody, especially the judges and his coach Yakuji Hayata as he would have probably been persuaded to drop out.
With this injury he had two more events left to perform, the Pummel Horse and the Rings. During the Horse event he was totally preoccupied with the thought of doing a flawless routine and not making any mistakes and obviously in pain he dismounted giving an almost perfect score of 9.5 out of a possible 10.
The Rings proved a very difficult challenge for Shun as he was lifted up and grabbed hold of the Rings with his leg encased in a plastic brace, without thinking about the injury, he knew that if he let his mind focus on the event at hand that he could do this, as the promise of a Gold Medal was within reach for his country and team, this was more important than a few seconds of excruciating pain and discomfort.
Everyone waited with abated breath as he again performed with almost perfection and coming close to the dismount from the eight foot high Rings as this would be the most painful part of the routine, he would have to keep his balance if he was to get a high score for the Japanese team to go through and get the gold. When Shun left the Rings he did a somersault through the air and the doctors on the side of the gym couldn’t believe their eyes as he did another flawless routine and landed on the floor obviously in excruciating pain and gritting his teeth and keeping his balance.
Shun Fujimoto managed to get his best ever score on the Rings, an amazing 9.7 out of 10 and then his leg crumpled from under him causing further injury, dislocating his knee and tearing ligaments in his leg, he completed the routine amidst loud cheers and a round of applause from the audience.
Fujimoto showed even more courage when he hobbled up to the podium to receive his Gold medal with his team mates. Japan won the Gold by achieving 576.85 points to USSR 576.45, just four tenths of a point between them, that score would not have been possible without Shun Fujimoto’s amazing performance, by using mind over matter and grit determination to go for the Gold and not letting a very serious injury stand in the way of his Goal, he proved the almost impossible could be done.