If you're like me and the rest of my family, you may be spending way too much time watching the Olympics, and I hope for your sake you are. The Olympics bring together in a single place at a single moment in time the top athletes in a variety of sports to vie for the distinction of best in the world.
It goes without saying, I presume, that the athletic ability of the competitors is extraordinary, and at times also astounding, bewildering, breathtaking, heart-stopping, spine-tingling, unimaginable, stunning, thrilling, miraculous, . . . , etc. No single word can quite capture it. It also likely goes without saying that these individuals perform at this level precisely because of the passion, dedication, and perseverance they bring to be the best.
While the story of the athletes' path to success in their respective sports is admirable, what is often even more impressive is the rest of the story. As do we all, Olympic athletes face significant life challenges, often more challenging than preparations as an athlete, that they must work to overcome in order to live the life they dream of. I love hearing their stories, for they are evidence that anyone has the capability to achieve their dreams, if they are willing to bring the passion, dedication and perseverance to do so.
Kathleen Baker, a Silver Medalist in the 100-meter backstroke event, overcame Crohn's Disease to make her dream come true, saying, "When you know something could be taken away from you, you appreciate it even more." Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian of all time, had to overcome his alcohol and drug addiction, as well as a bout with depression, to come out of retirement and realize his Olympic dream in Buenos Aires. Yusra Mardini, a member of the 2016 Refugee Olympic Team, is (now) known for rescuing 20 people in a boat after fleeing Damascus from the conflict in Syria, by swimming in open water for three hours and pulling the boat to safety in Lesbos. When asked about her Olympic experience, she simply said, "I want everyone to think refugees are normal people who had their homelands and lost them not because they wanted to run away and be refugees, but because they had dreams in their lives and they had to go. Everything is about trying to get a new and better life and by entering the stadium we are encouraging everyone to pursue their dreams."
What will your story be?
author of "JOY"