PORTLAND -- There are as many Olympic lessons as there are athletes. Few are as clear as the "persistence" embodied in South African Oscar Pistorius.
Born without the main bones in his lower legs, Pistorius' parents encouraged him to always do his best. He became a superstar in the Para Olympics. Then brought legal action to compete in Beijing against able-bodied runners. His arguments won the day, but not in time for him to race.
He spent the next four years training and qualified for the 400 meters in London. He raced last weekend and came in 7th in his heat and did not qualify for the finals. Still, he made history and said he'll cherish the memories all his life.
It’s the sort of sports lesson that resonates with many at Portland’s Jamison Square where young children play in a wading pool with watchful moms and dads nearby.
Emily Wagner was there with her two young daughters. “So I think that's been a big thing with us with the girls, teaching to practice and work and do their best but then to learn through those failures," Wagner said.
Galen Rupp is another lesson - in determination. He's dreamed of the Olympics since his days at Portland’s Central Catholic High School. Last weekend, he came in second to training partner Mo Farah and then gave Farah a joyful hug.
Back at Jamison Square, the lesson was understood. “Discipline, it helps you to set goals in your life,” said Gariela Ordonez as she sat with her young son.
Then there is the resilience of Michael Phelps, carrying a heavy mantel, trying to win more medals than any other Olympian and staying strong even in defeat.
“If you lose, you're still a winner. Shows what kind of character you have. So if you can come back like Phelps after losing one and pick up two or three more gold medals, that's good character," said Rod Jones from Beaverton.
Brian Baxter is a Portland sports psychologist. He's teaching his own son that failure is part of the journey. “If the ref makes a bad call, it’s not gonna be the end of the world. You'll be a better player and just a better person if you can control your emotions when things don’t go your way," said 9-year-old Hawk Baxter from his tire swing.
His father said images like an exhausted Kara Goucher picking up teammate Shalane Flannigan after they finished 10th and 11th in the marathon, spoke volumes about her character.
“You remember those moments sometimes more than who won the gold. Like, we'll remember that moment forever and who won the gold in that race? It'll be kind of a secondary thought," Brian Baxter said.
It’s the sort of thing we might all remember about games of sport and life.