It’s my second favorite 4 year tradition….second only to Leap Day! The Summer Olympics are HERE! Growing up, I had two Olympic images in my head. The first being that I would one day be an Olympic swimmer. I remember dedicating myself one summer to being the best swimmer possible. Needless to say, that didn’t quite work out. The second image I had in my head was a time and place that the world could put aside their differences and just compete in friendly competition. A naive thought, you say? Maybe…maybe not.
As I grew older, I came to realize the amazing accomplishments that an Olympic athlete is. Not just what they do, but who they are. They are the epitome of dedication and drive, hopes and dreams. They are amazing athletes who show you that anything is possible. Oh, and if you have this thing called natural talent, that helps too.
There are two cases I want to bring up in these current Olympic Games. Two gifted athletes, Michael Phelps and Jordyn Wieber. Two American athletes who have tasted their own flavor of defeat over the past couple of days. Two of the most amazing and gifted athletes in the world who came up a little short. What am I doing harping on the negativity when this blog is supposed to be about open perspective? Well, let’s dive into it.
Mr. Phelps is undoubtedly one of the most natural-born swimmers to walk on two legs. Tearing through both Athens and Beijing, he was unstoppable. Coming into this Olympics, he was definitely a major favorite, despite his age and apparent lack of training. Then all of a sudden, he lost. Okay, he didn’t lose, but he got 4th place, which means no medal, which to an Olympian means he lost. Still one of the absolute best in the world, but not THE best. Why? He, himself, said he didn’t put the training in.
I bring this up, because it seems like a slap in the face. What sort of arrogance is going through your head to make you NOT put in the training and still compete? He also was a part of a relay team for the US and they did not win Gold either. Did his lack of training effect that performance as well? I don’t want to speak for Mr. Phelps, but it seemed very self-centered to think he could walk into the Olympics and win without giving 110% to his training. Oh, and it may have also affected his teammates.
Next, let’s take a look at Jordyn Wieber. By all accounts Miss Wieber is said to have a very rigorous training schedule and a very dedicated ethic. Watching her perform only verifies the previous statement. She is a well oiled machine and one of the best female gymnasts in the world. So, what happened? Well, on that particular day, two of her teammates were better. Sure, she made a couple of mistakes, but unless you’re Nadia or Mary Lou, nobody’s perfect.
Here is where these two athletes differ. Both tasted defeat, but for very different reasons. Mr. Phelps did not train as much as he should have and Miss Wieber just wasn’t the best on one particular day. Later on the same day, Miss Wieber ‘tweeted’ that she was excited about Team USA finals and happy for her teammates. Who knows what Mr. Phelps will do, but at least for the moment Miss Wieber is 100% a team player and representing her country well.
I don’t take anything away from Mr. Phelps, he is an amazing athlete and should be looked upon as a great role model. But in this case, fame appears to have gotten the better of him. He achieved his hopes and dreams, and got used to winning. More than likely, Miss Wieber will not achieve her dream of an individual Gold Medal, but she still has a chance to be a part of a Gold Medal team and thus far it appears that she is embracing that as she should.
Who would you model yourself after? The undeniable athlete whose character is slightly in question or the one who gave it her all, came up short, and is still pursing for the benefit of others?