What I Learned from the Olympics

As I write this, I am watching the closing ceremony from Sochi and thinking about what it takes to be the best in your chosen field. This time of year we have what the entertainment industry calls “Award Season” with the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Academy Awards where actors, producers, directors and others are honored for the best achievement in their field. The sports world has all-star events where we watch the best compete. While watching professional actors or athletes is amazing, watching the outstanding performances of each and every person who qualifies for the Olympics is even more amazing to me! I am awestruck at their talent, their passion, their commitment, and their spirit!

I also think about their families and what they give up to raise a talented person. When I saw Michaela Shiffrin win the slalom on the last Friday of the games and she talked about how her family financed her passion for skiing by selling one of their cows each time she needed funds for an event or new equipment, it brought home how committed not only the athlete is but they need tremendous support of family and friends. She mentioned how it was brought home to her when her dad took her with him to sell the cow and she realized what a sacrifice her family was making for her. Then, as she finished her gold medal run and the camera cut to her parents who were sobbing with joy, I knew for them it was all worth it!

I was fortunate to be able to attend the summer games in 1984 when I lived in Los Angeles. It was a dream come true to be there in person. While we went to many events and saw many gold medal performances that will stay with me forever, what I remember the most was attending the Closing Ceremony in the LA Coliseum with 100,000 other people. At the closing ceremonies, the athletes mix and mingle with people from other countries.

Suddenly, you see people who were competing with each other days before walking in arm in arm with huge smiles on their faces. At the end of the ceremony in Los Angeles when the TV cameras went off and it was time to leave, the athletes wouldn’t leave the stadium. We didn’t leave either and watched with great appreciation the joy they were expressing with hugs and cries of “see you next time”. We kept hearing announcements like, “will the athletes please go to your busses. It is time to leave” and no one wanted it to end. What an amazing night that was!

For two weeks every two years people from all over the world come together to compete but they also bond. They get to know each other as competitors but also as human beings and when you know someone personally, it changes the dynamic. How I wish we could keep the spirit of the Olympics alive all the time!

Every two years we have either the summer or winter games and I find them personally motivating! They remind me to always strive to do my best and to honor those who support me—just like the ice dancers and snow boarders who acknowledge parents who gave up a lot to provide them with lessons, costumes, and more—there are people who have been there for me all along the way and I am most grateful for their support! Thank you!

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