When the hero of your kids dies


Andreas Selliaas has written the most touching blog post here in Norwegian. I’ll allow myself to translate most of it here, as well as I can, but if you read this and like it then you should visit that post and tweet it or whatever to pay tribute to the author. Beautifully put, in a very sad way.

Sleepless: On each side of me my children lie and cry quietly. They cannot sleep. They are very sad. They find it difficult to say what they are thinking. Many thoughts run through their minds. The only thing they know is that they are sad, really sad. So sad that they have to cry and not sleep. My daughter wonders if she can take on everything at the next swim practice. She is afraid of dying. Did Alexander die because he swam too fast? My son says he cannot sleep because he’ll never see his biggest idol again. It wasn’t just Alexander who looked forward to the Olympics. Alexander is the only real idol he’s got, the one he has a passionate relationship to and who did that swimming was accepted among the pals at school. And now he is gone.

The picture on the wall: My son has a picture of one sport hero over his bed. His own hero. Alexander. On the picture, Alexander flexes his upper arm after the European gold in Eindhoven in 2008. Right above the picture he has his trophy shelf. He looks at it every time he goes to bed and sometimes he asks us, before he falls asleep, if we think that he will ever be just as good. Of course, we say, even if we know that it is almost impossible. Alexander did the impossible.

The thoughts swirl: I’m also struggling with the tears. Alexander Dale Oen is the first sports hero that I’ve had together with my wife and children. And the greatest. My daughter wonders why he who was so good could die. I wonder too. She thinks his family must be very sad. They are. She is afraid that the same will happen to her brother, mom, daddy and everyone she loves. I do too. If this hadn’t happened, could he have won Olympic gold? That is not so important. The thoughts swirl and it is difficult to find good answers. Talking gives little comfort.

Go for it! “Go for it, then it will be tip-top, thumbs up. No matter what!” That is what Alexander said in a video message to the kids after the sports gala at Hamar this year. Today it hasn’t been either tip-top or thumbs up. It has only been infinitely sad. But there is one thing my kids are sure of”. They will go for it! No matter what! Thanks to a special man in swimming trunks and goggles.


About Author

Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)


  1. Jeez, a spelling error already in the title. My only excuse is that I sort of had to distance myself and translate in short bursts between breaks.

  2. Did you tackle that trouble that came your way
    With a resolute heart and cheerful?
    Or hide your face from the light of day
    With a craven soul and fearful?
    Oh, a trouble’s a ton, or a trouble’s an ounce,
    Or a trouble is what you make it,
    And it isn’t the fact that you’re hurt that counts,
    But only how did you take it?

    You are beaten to earth? Well, well, what’s that?
    Come up with a smiling face.
    It’s nothing against you to fall down flat,
    But to lie there — that’s disgrace.
    The harder you’re thrown, why the higher you bounce;
    Be proud of your blackened eye!
    It isn’t the fact that you’re licked that counts,
    It’s how did you fight — and why?

    And though you be done to the death, what then?
    If you battled the best you could,
    If you played your part in the world of men,
    Why, the Critic will call it good.
    Death comes with a crawl, or comes with a pounce,
    And whether he’s slow or spry,
    It isn’t the fact that you’re dead that counts,
    But only how did you die?

    by Edmund Vance Cooke

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