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August 16th, 2012
05:10 PM ET

Only In America: A gold medal dad

On Wednesday, Piers Morgan used his "Only in America" segment to tell the tale of a man he finds more exemplary than any athlete who competed at the games in his home country of the United Kingdom:

"A father who, in my mind, deserves a gold medal more than any of the Olympic champions in London," explained the host, introducing the subject of his story. "Rick Van Beek is a triathlete. One of the toughest challenges in sport."

A Michigan man, Van Beek doesn't merely swim, bike, and run. He does it all, while toting – literally, and figuratively – his inspiration:

"He takes the triathlon to a whole new level," explained Morgan. "Because he competes while carrying his teenage daughter who has cerebral palsy."

Thirteen-year-old Maddy has been along for more than 70 of Van Beek's competition's since 2008, and unless conditions are too severe, the duo finish the race together.

It's quite a change from Van Beek's previous lifestyle:

"Especially since Rick is not a natural athlete," the host said. "He quit smoking two packs a day when he began training."

Admitting that the endeavor was scary initially, the doting dad has developed a rather seamless plan for conquering the logistics of the race. During the swim, Rick tows his daughter in a kayak. She's in a cart next to him during the bike portion of the event. And when he closes with the run, he pushes Maddy in a stroller. As for switching from one discipline to the next?

"Between the three legs of each race," answered Morgan, "Rick carries Maddy in his arms."

In an interview with The Daily News, Van Beek explained his emotions:

"I've never been disappointed crossing the finish line because I'm always doing it with my daughter."

Despite the fact that Maddy is unable to walk or talk, and functions in a similar fashion to that of a three-year-old, it's clear she likes being outside:

"And he's doing everything in his power to give her those rare moments of joy," added the host.

Morgan spent much of the Olympics in his hometown, witnessing "heartwarming stories of endurance, determination, and devotion during the London Games."

But "Only in America" he explained, has he come across a competitor like Maddy's dad:

"None of them could hold a candle to Rick Van Beek. A quite extraordinary man, a quite extraordinary athlete, and a quite extraordinary father."
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  1. Patricia Taylor

    Hello,

    While I do not want fame and recogniztion like "Joe The Plumber" I would like to voice the view points of just the average African American, "Joe" and "Joann" , as well as educate Mr. Giuliani, on his comments last night regarding the comment made by Vice President Joe Biden,but more specifically on his statement "if Romney had made racist statements that people would be outraged, and speaking out against him everywhere". I suppose being a white male and a Republican, it may be hard for some to realize that the statements by Romney, most Republicans, and now his running mate, are among the worst racial slurs towards African Americans, and other minority groups any public speaker has been able to get away with, yet they do on a daily basis. Mr. Romney, and others Republicans consistently make statements, such as putting America back the way it was, making it a place like the founding fathers intended, and/or fixing America so the founding fathers would be proud. THe founding fathers were a bunch of lying, murdering, salve owning thieve's, and unlike what the Mayor may have learned in his history books. Columbus did not discover America, rather he and the founders of this country, left England to escape persecution, then came to America, which was already occupied, and owned by the Indian's, and they ruthlessly, murdered, innocent men, women, and children, then stole their land, and made them slaves, and left them to live on Reservations to this day. Now to say you want to put America back the way it was to an African and Indian American is one of the greatest insults anyone should be allowed to say. Yet Romney and most Republicans say it on a daily basis. So please let the Mayor know the statement Mr. Biden made, he made for all of us average Joe's, because we understand completely and totally what Romney means and if the Mayor would be honest, he knows this is a truth also. But like every one else who would like to take this country back to the dark ages, it appears he too is playing dumb.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Your average "Jo" Ms. Taylor

    August 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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