Today was an amazing day. I did not see any competitions. I did not attend any major cultural activities. I did not do anything out of the ordinary that would make this day particularly spectacular. Today I had a conversation. In fact, I had a few. These conversations were some of the best I have had since my time in Singapore.
Meet the following members of Team USA…
Lucas competed in the first ever Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. His competition is over, finishing just shy of the bronze medal. This afternoon I sat down to lunch with the wrestling team and got to know Lucas a bit better. Lucas is from California and is going into his senior year of high school. We talked about his choice of college and the best thing that any adult would like to hear is that Lucas is very adamant about obtaining an education. He’s looking at a lot of different schools, but education is definitely one of his top priorities. Despite the loss in the games his spirits were high and he was ready to partake in the cultural events taking place in the village.
To meet a young athlete who has a focus on education is a breath of fresh air for some. I have no doubt that Lucas will find success in what he sets out to do.
Shelby and I had a nice conversation on our way to the main entrance today. Her coach was coming in for a private practice just before her qualification round tomorrow. Shelby has only been participating in her event for a year. After a longer conversation with her coach I found out that she is ranked second in the world among youth. In the United States alone she is ranked 8th of professionals. This girl can throw!
Shelby and I talked about her home town which lies just outside Atlanta. She attends high school and is going into her senior year. She too has college on her mind and will soon start checking into schools. Something that I learned about Shelby was that before track and field she was involved in softball and basketball. She now trains and competes year round in both outdoor and indoor track.
To meet a young athlete with such an impressive athletic resume is something not many get to experience. The best thing about this conversation was that at no point did Shelby bring up her ranking or her athletic achievements. She was completely cool and relaxed and a typical teen. She’s a very mature young woman with a gorgeous smile and intoxicating laugh. Shelby competes tomorrow in the qualifying round for the hammer toss.
Jessica could be one of my favorite athletes to talk to thus far. She has an incredible energy and attitude; talking with her will leave anyone motivated.
Jessica competed last night. She was incredibly excited and you would never know she had just lost. She in fact did win – a personal record.
Achieving her PR was a great achievement that both her and her coach were proud of. Since then she has spent time with her family and participated in many of the Culture and Education Program activities. She in fact spent the entire day walking around the World Culture Village and showing her sister, who is also a weightlifter, the entire village. Jessica has also signed up for a couple off-site activities over the next few days.
Athletes will win. Athletes will lose. To see an athlete compete and find the victory in her personal record rather than focus on the lack of hardware is so rare and unique. I feel that too many athletes focus on the win and focus on the victory over others. I think too often we forget to find the victory within ourselves and I think Jessica shows us that. I think we can all learn a lot from Jessica.