In My Orbit: Lessons from Olympiads

3 08 2012

Digital Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti /

The Girl turned 46 yesterday. It really wasn’t a happy day. Yes, I was thankful to see another year, for the great vacation I had the week prior with my husband and his family, and for health and strength to continue on my journey.  But the older I get, the more reflective I seem to become, and I did more than my share of reflecting on losses, deferred or broken dreams, and where I was NOT, instead of where I am. Thankfully, I got over it, and enjoyed the rest of my day. Two members of the 2012 USA Olympics team helped to reshape my perspective.

The Last shall be First

Who wouldn’t be inspired by Gabby Douglas‘ Olympic gold medal win for individual all-around title in Women’s Gymnastics? Love her story, love that she gives glory to God, that she made history simply by being who she is and striving to be the best she could be–you can’t manufacture or spin that–you either have it, or you don’t.

Most of all, I love that she was considered the least likely of the USA Womens Gymnastics team to come away with the individual gold.

“Few could have imagined this result a year ago. Jordyn Wieber was the world champion and heavy favorite, while Douglas was the one who was a total mess at the national championships. But she gained confidence as part of the U.S. team that took gold at the 2011 world championships, and proved to herself she was as good as anyone when she beat Wieber at the American Cup in March, never mind that her scores didn’t count because she was competing as an alternate.”

NBC News/Blogs “Douglas has a golden night

I fight against being jaded, and even more against being relegated to the has-been pile (even by myself). I delight in stories where the person was dismissed or discounted, only to prove everyone wrong. Go Gabby, thanks for inspiring this Girl!

Better is the End of a thing than its Beginning

From the other side of the Olympic spectrum is Michael Phelps. Four years ago, he was as fresh and wide-eyed as Gabby Douglas when he made history in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, winning eight gold medals in eight events.

But commentators and certain teammates had assumed he was resting on his laurels, especially when he tanked in the 400m individual relay in the 2012 London Olympic Games. All eyes moved from Phelps to Ryan Lochte, an equally talented teammate and fierce competitor.

But Michael proved to everyone the stuff he was made of. He had a game plan, and he succeeded in executing it. Lochte, 28, goes home with two Gold meals, two Silvers, and one Bronze. Michael at 27 holds 20–count them–TWENTY Olympic medals. He has two more events tonight, and tomorrow. If he wins in the last two events, he will have 22. He will be the most decorated Olympiad in History. Another feather in Michael’s cap is that he won the Gold in the 200m IM for the third time consecutively.

LA Times: “Michael Phelps counts down final hours of his career.

Michael has said this will be his last Olympics. If so, he will be ending it with a bang, his name secured in the record books for some time to come.

I love and learn from his example: 1) to continue to best yourself; 2) to cut your losses, learn from them, and continue to move forward; 2) to leave gracefully, at the top of your game.

Thank you, Team USA, for flipping the script on Year 46.  What a great and unexpected present!



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