08/04/2012 11:02 EDT | Updated 10/04/2012 05:12 EDT

No Need To Apologize, Paula Findlay

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Canada's Paula Findlay is comforted by a coach after finishing the women's triathlon event at Hyde Park at the 2012 Olympic Games in London on August 4, 2012. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GettyImages)

Guts are a key ingredient in the makeup of any athlete who meddles in endurance sports. Just stand at the final 400 metres of any marathon, major or small, and you'll see it on the salt-stained faces of the finishers.

We like to celebrate during these Games the athletes who medal, those who stand on podiums and rack up hardware. In defeat, in agony, however, you see the true display of sportsmanship and what it takes to push the body beyond its limits.

Triathlete Paula Findlay finished last in her Olympic debut Saturday, and told the nation that she was "sorry." For any athlete who has felt the Wall, who has felt the race wasn't their day, that must be just a fraction of what she was going through. On her sport's biggest day, she must have felt both the weight of her own expectations, as well as her entire country's.

"I'm really sorry to everybody to Canada."

It was Canadian triathlete Simon Whitfield who for me succinctly summed up what race day meant for his sport -- or any sport where preparation is the key. A few weeks after winning that thrilling silver medal in Beijing in 2008, he wrote:

"I felt like all I had to do was express my fitness. I wasn't hoping for miracles, simply expressing fitness earned through hard work," he wrote on a blog at the time.

Fitness is earned through hard work, and race day is an expression of all the preparation. These athletes don't go praying for a breakthrough performance, and even after the race Findlay said, "I guess my fitness is not quite up there."

It wasn't Findlay's day. It could have been a day where she would just have to stand off the course and walk away from the race.

But she didn't.

One of the most unforgettable moments I'll always associate with the Olympics is the finish of Derek Redmond, a British runner who injured himself in the midst of competition at the 1992 Games in Barcelona. In severe pain and sadness, he hobbled to the finish, in front of tens of thousands.

Making it to the finish, forcing yourself to face the line and the cameras when you don't have an ounce of energy left in you: That's guts and that's heart.

No need to apologize Paula. No need.

Kenny Yum is HuffPost Canada's managing editor and a 20-time marathoner. He blogs on running and training at A Whole Lot Of Soles.

Highlights from the 2012 London Games so far:

2012 London Olympic Highlights