It’s been heartbreaking to watch Simone Biles sit out the Olympics. And witness other athletes’ disappointment in their performances under the harsh spotlight and severe pressure. My heart went out to Abbey Weitzeil, visibly upset with herself when (according to the sportscasters) her split second hesitation on the starting block cost the US the Gold, even though she swam her heart out in an amazing race.
Who doesn’t get anxious and nervous under a deadline or when put on the spot? I’ve had the ‘twisties’ millions of times, I just never knew what to call them.
I can probably recall, in agonizing detail, every time I flubbed an assignment, didn’t say the right thing, or didn’t choose the right words. These mistakes rankle years later. But the spirit crushing defeat of only winning Silver or Bronze is incomprehensible to me.
Athletes work all of their lives for this Olympic moment. The quality of their one or two performances dictates their entire future. The HBO documentary The Weight of Gold examines the effects of this unbelievable pressure. It broke my heart, starting with Michael Phelps confirming -“No Olympic athletes ever enjoy ‘normal’ childhoods” all they do is practice–ending with the horrifying statistics of Olympians’ depression and even suicide after the games.
I want to further educate myself and figure out how I can help support these people I idolized.
Still, these Olympians also give me hope. I witness their agony, but also feel privileged to watch their triumphs. Years of practice, stamina, persistence, culminate in the highest achievements – World Records, Olympic Records, Medals and personal bests.
I will remember them. For their physical achievements and discipline and their mental focus — I am awed by their mere presence on the United States team. I understand the extreme competition they bested to represent our country and win a place at the Olympics. I hope their well-deserved recognition will not fade, nor be diminished if they did not medal.
The dedication, drive, and work ethic of these athletes inspires me to strive to hone my own skills and achieve my own noble goals.
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