I love watching the Olympics. I love it even more when I know some of the athletes competing. Earlier this week, I watched my old training partner and friend Sharon Van Rouwendaal compete for the Netherlands in the women’s 200 meter backstroke semi-finals. There really is something special about watching someone you know compete with the world’s best. Sharon and I trained together with her sister Denise when I lived in France in 2005-2006, and the Van Rouwendaal family took me under their wing as a second family, so you can understand how I beamed with pride as I watched her hold her own against the top in the world.
This morning I woke up at 4:30am to match my 10-mile run with the live Olympic broadcast of the women’s triathlon race, a race in which my friend Gwen Jorgensen was competing in for the United States. Mid-race Gwen encountered what every triathlete fears, a flat tire, and, despite the flat taking her out of medal contention, she continued her race like any true Olympic champion would. She dug deep and persevered with her head up high, and that is what the true Olympic spirit is all about. Olympic glory doesn’t just lie in the perfect performance or race, but it also unfolds itself in the determination of the champions who battle through unexpected trials during competition, and that is what makes the Games so very beautiful to watch.
To Gwen and Sharon: you inspire me. Your spirits of perseverance and passion for the sports you do make the inner competitor in me come alive.
Live inspired. And, when you find yourself inspired by the example of someone else, make sure to thank them. Thank you Gwen. Thank you Sharon, and thank you to all the London Olympians.