What it takes to be an Olympian...in your life.
As a child, I recall eagerly watching the Olympics with my family.
We lived vicariously through the athletes as they displayed their athletic prowess.
I remember watching as Nadia Comaneci won the first perfect score in gymnastics.
And as the years rolled by, I have been witness to some of the great moments in Olympic history.
Two in particular come to mind:
The first occurred at the 1996 Olympics when Kerri Strug, a member of the U.S. gymnastics team, suffered a serious ankle injury on her first vault attempt. Kerri's ability to stick the landing on her second attempt would determine the ranking of the U.S. team. The gold medal was within their grasp. Breaths were collectively held as we witnessed Kerri gather her strength and attempt another run despite her injury. Against all odds, she stuck the landing long enough to earn the team the gold.
It was truly beautiful to watch.
The second memorable event I recall occurred at the 1992 Olympics. Halfway through a semi-final race, British runner, Derek Redmond tore his hamstring. It was heartbreaking to watch as he struggled to continue; the agony of each step etched on his face. It was, however, when Derek's father leapt over the railing of the stands to help his son complete the race that this moment transcended mere greatness. The love, strength and courage freely given from father to son was tangible. And as father and son stood mere feet from the finish line, the son's arm was released so that he could finish the race on his own.
The power of that moment was indescribable.
And so as I watch the Olympics this year, I ponder the qualities it takes to be an Olympian.
Surely dedication and skill
and discipline and talent.
But there is something more.
There is a quality within the heart of an Olympian that seems unbreakable.
I think it is their ability to carry on, no matter the obstacle.
This is what gives them their edge.
This is what leads to greatness.
And it reminded me of another within my own life who carries within her this same quality.
In speaking with her the other day she shared,
"You can never quit. Just never never never never quit."
She was speaking of her efforts to assist in her brother's recovery from a near fatal stroke.
She has the heart of an Olympian...
as I suspect so many of us do as we toil and trouble our way through the day.
We never give up.
And on those days when it seems like it is all too much and our little Olympian hearts seem to falter, we may find solace in the poignant words of another of the world's greatest,
"If you get tired learn to rest, not to quit."
* A popular post from my archives in honor of the 2018 Olympic Games!