This line is from the poem “Invictus”, by a Victorian writer William Earnest Henley. (Invictus is the Latin word for Unconquered).
Matt Baker, for the Olympics 2012, reads only 30 seconds of it, which is a good start.
But the poem “Invictus” is longer and has a more distinguished history and influence on sport and politics than the 2012 Olympics….
In the compelling film “Invictus” showing how Nelson Mandela came into office, his struggles and his inspiring both the hosting of the World Rugby event and the Captain of the national Rugby team to take part and attempt to win against world-class teams. In this scene, the rugby team are shown around Robben Island, the prison for mainly political prisoners – and the very cell where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27 years behind bars. The captain (played by Matt Damon) lingers and into his mind comes the poem which sustained Nelson Mandela (played by Morgan Freeman) through the toughest times.
In an interview in America, Morgan Freeman was asked about the poem and asked to read it – he didn’t even need to look at the offered printed version; he learnt it in school. He recites it from memory. It is so powerful that the interviewer involuntarily swears thinking it’s over – but Morgan continues until the end, when Charlie Rose, the presenter, says “This is a magical moment in the history of this show”. Morgan just smiles the smile of a man who knows good writing when he sees it.
The poem then went on to be used as the theme for the Invictus games, 2014, for “Wounded Warriors”. Recited by a variety of achievers in fields of arts and sport: Daniel Craig, Joss Stone, Tom Hardy, Joanna Lumley, will.i.am and Rod Stewart, Stephen Fry, Bear Grylls, Bruce Forsyth and Example with sports personalities Ricky Hatton, Lizzy Yarnold, Louis Smith and Iwan Thomas, along with actor and comedian Omid Djalili.