I thought about how so many of the systems I grew up with are focused on small areas. Top of the class, best in the state, winner of some small race, or other accolade that more or less means you are .01% better at something than your peers. Now since I thought of this while running it relates to running. I read the book More Fire recently which talks about the best Kenyan runners. I've also learned a little about Japanese running along the way. Then from experience I know a lot about United States running. So when I thought about how runners rise to prominence in the different countries I realized that it is similar to how people rise to prominence in other career areas as well.
You see in the US we are afforded a great number of possibilities. We are supported by our parents, teachers, coaches, extended family, friends and everyone to pursue whatever we want to pursue. In other countries it is not this way. Not every child is supported to follow their dreams. They have to fight for what they want. They have to fight their parents, family and friends. Probably not physically but they have to endure the comments and stares of the others.
So much effort produces a person who has no limits. They have been breaking limits other people placed on them their whole life so why should that ever change? In the US childhood is a celebration of participation. Why will the African runner out run the American? He will actually go hungry if he does not get more prize money. We are not afraid of that with our support system.
It seems that people get complacent where they are because they are not afraid of losing it all in an instant. That is fine, I guess. However, I submit that we can lose it all in an instant. Getting back to the point it seems that champions can rise out of adversity as well, possibly better than those that are supported almost endlessly. It's just an interesting thought that I had on my long run that took four days to get down on paper.