Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Where are they now and how did they get there?

He won by 2/100ths of a second! Amazing.

Let's face it, we're pretty much hooked. We love being part of the Olympic rush....the triumph of someone who devotes years to developing their technique in a sport so they can stand on the podium, with the coveted medal around their neck while listening to the impassioned strains of their country's song. We admire their physical agility and envy the determination and discipline that has allowed them to compete in this historic event.

We also get to see past Olympian heroes because the networks bring them back on the air for commentary and interviews. Guess what, they age too. Interestingly enough, I don't see an abundance of plastic surgery enhancement on past Olympians. Maybe they are more focused on other things and don't seek to recapture the past.

Dick Buttons, two time figure skating gold medalist is 80 years old now and is right in there with everyone chatting away about current events on the ice rink.

Peggy Fleming is a grandmother, gardener and wine-maker. Because she is a breast cancer survivor, she's involved in raising awareness of the importance of early detection.

Mark Spitz is on the speaking circuit recalling the 1972 Munich games which were marred by the killing of Israeli athletes. Mark, being Jewish, was closely guarded during the Munich competition. Now he speaks about his experiences living courageously with intolerance.

Eric Heiden, golden star of speed skating in the 80's, is a physician who treated one of the current speed skaters following a serious accident and was instrumental in his recovery and return to the ice.

Past Olympians positively engaged in life have some key things in common:

  • 1. They realize their potential for influence on a smaller scale even decades after their time on the podium.
  • 2. They realize they still have skills and talents yet to be discovered and seek new ways to find them and put them to use.
  • 3. They don't let their decreasing physical stamina or athletic skill limit their accomplishment in new endeavors.
They've managed to let go of the past (numerous times depending on their age) and put it in its rightful place realizing it will not be re-lived again in the same way. This allows them to move take new risks, continue learning and work diligently on new projects. I guess this isn't too surprising in light of the fact that they were so disciplined in a daily rigorous athletic routine as teens and young adults.

I find I still admire them as much as I did when I watched them receive their medal. I like their commitment, both then and now.

Photo: Kimmie Meisner, U.S. Figure Skater. AP photo / March 25, 2006

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