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My Thoughts On The Olympics

I love the Olympics! Watching the world’s finest athletes compete in not only your favorite sports, but also many other sports you never really get to see (how cool was the handball?!) is a once-in-a-lifetime-type experience that just happens to repeat itself every four years. Plus there’s great drama – the winners exude elation while everyone else runs the gamut from quiet disappointment to utter agony. And for many athletes (such as Tahmina Kohistani of Afghanistan), just being at the Olympics is the real prize.

America won the medal count at the London Olympics, but are we celebrating the wrong thing? Don’t get me wrong – I want to hear our national anthem played at every medal ceremony. We revere our Olympic medalists as national treasures, we’re inspired by their hard work and dedication, and rightly so. But I can’t help thinking about everyone else. What about those athletes who finished just off the podium? What about those who came in at the bottom? What about those who were cut from their country’s national teams? What about those who failed to even qualify for tryouts for their national teams?

Only one person (or team) wins in the end. Everyone else – and I mean EVERYONE else – will finish their season with a loss. Hard work and dedication are hallmarks of champions, but they are also the hallmarks of many “lesser” athletes who simply didn’t have the genetics to compete at “the next level.” Is the runner who struggles to earn a place on his middle school’s track team less deserving of admiration than Galen Rupp or Sonya Richards Ross? Is an Olympic medal or world championship or NCAA record or state title really the ultimate prize?

We need a shift in our thinking. I know far too many people who are so intimidated by “real athletes,” they’re afraid to work out. But the truth is, it’s not how WELL you do at your athletic endeavors that really counts – it’s simply that you DO them. Do what you can do. Improve your own performance. Tap into your own potential. Accept nothing less than your best – whether that’s winning a gold medal or walking up a flight of stairs without stopping.

If you do that, you will be a champion. Keep moving, my friends!

– Alan

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