After a week of watching the Olympics, I ask myself what am I taking away from it all? Mostly I am thinking how there is no substitute for consistent practice at achieving excellence. Thinking of the hours Olympians spend daily in swimming, diving, running, lifting, and conditioning puts daily exercise into perspective for me!
Seeing athletes deal with the pressure of their own expectations and those of others and the reality of factors that are not in their control despite their meticulous planning is a tutorial in courage. I am remembering the young gymnast who in the midst of his beautiful routine fell off the pommel horse and simply got back on again to go on, knowing his bid for the gold was over. I think of the swimmer whose goggles slipped as she swam her part of the relay, and how she prevailed with them nearly between her teeth. I think of a runner who was clipped by the runner behind him, and helping each other up, they finished the race together, side by side. I remember Katy Ledecky congratulating her Australian competitor in the water after losing gold to her and embracing silver this time. The take away is “grace under pressure.”
Mostly I remember the handwritten words on a track winner’s shoes: “All for family.” Every winner acknowledged family as both a motivation and an irreplaceable support in their victory. “Family,” whether by blood or by choice, included coaches and all those who believed in them all along the way. Many looked upward as they represented the family of their country, acknowledging not only the physical part of their journey, but the spiritual as well.
While we may feel discouraged by division in our world, by the virus, by poverty, by the looming threat of climate, the Olympic experience reminds us that hard work, a little luck, and joining together with others brings “the gold.” That takeaway keeps us going to children’s sporting events, and endless meetings, and taking care of business consistently in our own lives, one day at a time.