Austin’s 6th Gift to the World: Lance Armstrong
Austin may not have the professional sports cred of our bigger Texas brethren, but we still have our share of sport heroes. The University of Texas has produced Hall of Fame athletes the likes of Bobby Layne and Earl Campbell, future shoo-in Roger Clemens, and rising star Vince Young. Before Kevin Schwantz won a world championship, he raced motorcycles down Riverside Drive during Aquafest. Austinite Mia Hamm redefined women’s soccer, and Andy Roddick burned up courts around town on his way to a world #1 ranking and US Open title.
But Austin’s greatest athletic gift to the world is undoubtedly Lance Armstrong. The 7-time Tour de France winner has created an unmatched legacy in one of the world’s most grueling athletic events. The guy is such an endurance machine that he spends his retirement running (around) with bud Matthew McConnaughey and finishing the New York Marathon in under 3 hours. Something tells me we’re never going to see a “Fat Elvis” period from this guy.
The incredible thing about Lance is that he has done all of this after improbably surviving testicular cancer that had spread throughout his body. Lance’s fight against cancer has transcended a mere personal victory, thanks to the creation of his foundation and the Livestrong brand. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has donated millions of dollars to cancer research and fundamentally changed the role of cancer support to promote survivorship rather than debilitation or bereavement.
Of course, Lance isn’t perfect. He’s burned through a few high profile relationships, pissed off his neighbors by trashing a Hill Country watering hole, and the French love nothing more than to slander his blood every few years. But that’s all just filler to make the biopic more interesting. Lance’s only real flaw is opening the door for thousands of duffer cyclists to wear ridiculous “sponsored” gear as they trudge along Loop 360. In the big scheme of things, that’s a small price to pay for his greatness.