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October 4, 2007

Practice News Story 5: Obituary

9:28 p.m. MT Oct. 2, 2007

"When I was sick, I didn’t want to die.
When I race I don’t want to lose.
Dying and losing, it’s the same thing."
- Lance Armstrong

If you happen to be one of the six or seven people in the world who have no idea who Lance Armstrong is, the quote above will tell you all you need to know about the the cancer surviving, seven-time Tour de France champion. Armstrong, who died today at the age of 36, was a competitor and a winner. Dying and losing really meant the same thing to him; neither option was an acceptable outcome. Fight and win. Meet and beat adversity. That's what his life revolved around. The troubles for Armstrong started out early, as he grew up without a prominent father figure in his life. But the adversity came to a head when at age 25 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Armstrong made his living outracing others on his bike. He was a promising talent set on winning the Tour de France, cycling's most grueling and prestigious event, a 22-day, 2000 mile ride around the perimiter of France. In 1996 Armstrong had become the No. 1 cyclist in the world ( and was participating in the Tour de France before pulling out because of sickness. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed and learned that the cancer had spread to his lungs and into his brain. The energies directed towards winning the tour now were focused on survival. It took two years, repeated chemotherapy treatments, surgery to remove brain tumors and a diseased testacle, but Armstrong won. Cancer conquered, Armstrong returned to the cycling scene.

The stage was set for an inspirational story. Former cyclist overcomes cancer and rides again in the Tour de France. The story quickly became better than anyone ever expected.

In 1999, just one year after his victory over cancer, Armstrong won the Tour de France, beating the 2nd place challenger by more than seven minutes. The record for total Tour de France victories by one person in those days was five. By the time Lance was through he had set the new record with seven victories, each coming consecutively from 1999 to 2005. In the process Armstrong became a hero for cancer patients worldwide. He instituted the Lance Armstrong Foundation and teamed with Nike to raise millions of dollars for cancer research.

Some called his comeback unnatural, and consequently hounded Armstrong with needles through all of his tour victories. He received more drug tests for steroids and other performance enhancing drugs than any man in the history of the world, but he was never proven to have used illegal substances. As a result of his clean victories, the accolades have been numerous. ESPN, Sports Illustrated, and the Associated Press have all at one time named Armstrong athlete of the year.

Fittingly, Armstrong died while competing. There's no doubt that that's the way he would have wanted it. He was attempting to set the ground speed record on a bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, when he simply collapsed and fell off the bike. The cause of death is currently unknown. Armstrong is survived by his mother, Linda Mooneyham, his ex-wife Kristin Richard, and their three children, Luke, Grace and Isabelle. Funeral services will be held in Austin Texas.

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  1. WOW! This was incredible! you are an amazing writer. I think this is my first time coming on to your blog but I will for sure check it out more often. I think you really have a talent for this! Hopefully you are going into this field. I loved the quote to start it off. That is really creative!

  2. Definately broke the norm on obituary style. very readable, good job.