The 2012 Summer Olympics are over and our Olympic fevers have broken. We’re well on our way to leading normal lives…but the amazing displays of physical stamina, as well as the difficult heartbreaks, live on as inspiration.
Why do I find the Olympics inspiring? I love the people. The stories. It’s not the events I enjoy—well, okay, I like most of the events—but it’s the personal stories that clutch at my heart. It’s the mental and emotional feats…the real-life hurdles that these athletes faced and overcame through inner strength and persistence. And the reminder that the sky’s the limit if you try hard and focus your energy.
It reminds me of why I write, as well as why I read…and it’s probably the same reason most of us do. I like to write/read about characters overcoming the odds and surviving, even thriving. And the Olympics add that time crunch that surely we suspense aficionados can appreciate—it’s do or die within a couple of weeks’ span, even if the athlete has been preparing a couple of years or an entire lifetime for this moment of triumph. And yet, for every athlete who succeeds, there are many who didn’t reach that gold medal.
But they're all winners because they were all brave enough to risk failure. Knowing only a few can be in the spotlight, they are willing to dedicate hours and weeks and months to their passion. What a fantastic message of persistence and shooting for our dreams.
What were some of my favorite stories from this Olympics?
- Misty May and Kerri Walsh (USA) – Women’s Beach Volleyball
This pair has dominated the beach volleyball circuit for over a decade, but what inspired me most was how they communicate, both on court and off. Their interviews show a deep and abiding friendship and mutual respect.
- Usain Bolt (Jamaica) – Track
Fastest man ever – holy moly! He’s got reason to be confident. The story they presented on his home country showed his father joking that it was eating the homegrown yams that made Bolt so fast.
- Oscar Pistorius (South Africa) – Track
Double-amputee runner. Simply amazing. Not only has he overcome odds most of us will never face, but he does everything with a beautiful smile. He's moved on from the Olympics to the Paralympics.
- Michael Phelps (USA) – Swimming
He's won 22 medals in 4 Olympics, 18 of them are gold medals. He's become the standard by which many swimmers judge themselves. Chad de Clos from South Africa beat him in the 200-meter butterfly, and said he was honored to swim against his hero.
- Adrien Niyonshuti (Rwanda) – Mountain Bike
He lost dozens of members of his family, including six siblings, in 1994 to genocide. Cycling saved his sanity. He told reporters that he knew he didn't have a shot at a medal. His goal was simply to finish the race, and to represent his country.
What are some real-life stories (Olympic or non-Olympic) you’ve found inspiring? What do you do/watch/read to get inspired to either tackle or shake up your daily routine?