"As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best person we can: by making the best choices, by making the most of the talents we've been given."
Like most of you, I'm sure, the Summer Olympics are pretty much on the telly (hat tip to our British hosts) non-stop in my household these days. I enjoy the Olympics. I don't get all geeked out like some folks do about them, but I'm more than a casual spectator. What's making these games even more fun for me is watching my daughter get into them for the first time. She just turned nine years old, so this is when she's putting it all together and asking lots of questions. In fact, we had to keep rewinding the opening ceremonies due to the constant barrage of questions. It got me thinking about the first Olympics that I really remember watching (or at least taking any real interest in), which was 1984. Los Angeles. The Coliseum. Mary Lou Retton. Carl Lewis. Good times.
So, with every Olympic games come the story lines and the favorites to medal in each event. It's all well and good, but what I enjoy more are the unexpected stories that unfold during the actual games themselves. Don't get me wrong, it's cool to see the best athletes perform their very best and bring home the expected medals. I'm more fascinated and captivated by the games and the athletes when the wheels come off and the unexpected happens. Call me crazy, but I like to see how these people perform when adversity hits and the pressure is really on. This is where their mettle is truly tested (no pun intended).
I pulled out a few of my favorite Olympic memories from years past that really highlight and showcase what the Olympic spirit is really all about (in my opinion). Take a few minutes to relive some of these moments. It might just help restore your faith in humanity.
Derek Redmond at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. If you're a parent, grab your Kleenex.
Kerri Strug at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. This is probably my favorite Olympic moment. I still get chills every time I watch it. This is my definition of clutch player.
And then we have the latest Olympic drama that unfolded this past Sunday, when Jordyn Wieber failed to qualify for a spot in the all-around competition for the US women's gymnastics team. She was the hands-down favorite going into the Olympics and the current World Women's All-Around Champion. It was her own teammate (and friend), Aly Raisman, that edged her out and took the opportunity away from her. Here were Wieber's comments just minutes after her dreams were crushed and reality was still settling in.
"It was hard because of course I wanted that spot, but I also wanted Ally to do her best also for the team and for herself," Wieber told NBC after Raisman's results came in.
"It's always been a dream of mine to compete in the all-around at the Olympics and shoot for that gold medal," said the reigning world champion. "I'm really proud of Ally and Gabby (Douglas) both and I'm happy that they both made it to the all-around and I'm glad that I'll be able to help the team out in team finals."
Wow. Well played. How about that response? And this comes from a 17 year-old who just had her heart broken. I know quite a few middle-aged executives who don't have that much poise and class even under the best of conditions, let alone national/worldwide television with a reporter and camera capturing every tear rolling down your cheeks.
This is where is gets good for me. How will she respond? The team is still counting on her for the team competition and needs her to shake it off and step up if they're going to medal. Life is messy. There's no getting around it. But how we handle the mess is what defines character, molds leaders and separates the good from the great.
Go Team USA!