By Meredith Nelson for Island Eye News
Watching the 2016 Summer Olympic Games games, I’ve learned a thing or two about life as an athlete, and at the time of this writing, the games are still underway. TV reporters are commenting on the victim/vandal dispute concerning Ryan Lochte and other U.S. swimmers, and at this point, the situation is questionable. However, these lessons are not questionable.
You may not get a second chance to make a first impression
Or you just don’t get a second chance. Period. Monday night, Aug. 15, of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. It’s the start of the 110m hurdles preliminary heat. The word “set” comes forth from the heavens. And then it’s all over, even before the gun goes off, for French sprinter Wilhem Belocian.
It’s been called the cruelest rule in Olympic sports, if not all sports: a runner is DQ’d from a track event after just one false start.
No warnings, no do-overs. Four years of training to win, then one millisecond and you’re out completely.
If he doesn’t already, Belocian could perhaps benefit from yoga, meditation, even long-distance running—something, anything, to quiet his mind and therefore bring his body to stillness when it counts.
Sometimes you have to take chances
“I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all,” said gymnast Simone Biles, first African-American to be world all-around champion and the first woman to win three consecutive world all-around titles.
Simone reportedly stated that she doesn’t want to be known as the first African American woman to achieve such great heights. Instead, she prefers to be recognized for the effort she put into those tremendous results.
Maturity can win
It’s no secret that Michael Phelps has some skeletons he might prefer to keep in the closet. In the past, he has at times been able to hide behind his swimming, instead of answering the call of responsibility. At the end of the swimming events in 2016, his career came to a close. (Or did it? We shall see!). No longer having a purpose, one might think Phelps may once again turn to questionable behavior. But a fiancée and a son may bring a new sense of purpose to Phelps. ESPN Senior Writer Wayne Drehs wrote “he will no longer have swimming to keep his life within the boundaries—to bring him happiness, contentment, sobriety. But he doesn’t need it. He finally knows who he is beyond a swimmer.”
What goes around comes around
You play with fire, you’re gonna get burned, eventually. Russian sprinter Yulia Chermoshanskay was on the 2008 4×100 meter gold medalist team in the Beijing Olympic games. Eight years later, the International Olympic Committee announced that she tested positive for two prohibited substances that were found on a retest.
Chermoshanskay has been retroactively disqualified from those games, meaning her team’s gold medal in the 4×100-meter relay is withdrawn. Talk about taking one for the team!
Balance is critical
So many of us can learn a lesson from Kerri Walsh-Jennings. The oldest female medal winner in Olympic beach volleyball history knows how to balance career with family. To see her perform so well in her late 30s, despite challenges as a player and balancing life as a mom with young children is both inspirational and motivating (although how she does it all is beyond me!). Trivia note: Kerri played in a volleyball tournament and instructed young players at an Isle of Palms clinic at The Windjammer in September 2011!
It’s what the games are all about. American track athlete Abbey D’Agostino tripped over fallen runner Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand during the 5,000-meter qualifying race. They both fell to the ground, instantly knowing that their Olympic dreams were crushed. D’Agostino helped Hamblin to her feet, and then encouraged her to finish the last mile of the race. The two came in last, but were granted the opportunity to compete in the finals. However, D’Agostino was injured to the point of not being able to continue on.
D’Agostino said, “Although my actions were instinctual at that moment, the only way I can and have rationalized it is that God prepared my heart to respond that way. This whole time here He’s made clear to me that my experience in Rio was going to be about more than my race performance—and as soon as Nikki got up I knew that was it.”
Now that reflects the Olympic spirit. What lessons have YOU learned from the 2016 Summer Olympics? Let us know!
Meredith Nelson, M.Ed, is the owner of PrimeTime Fitness, Inc, in Mt. Pleasant. Since 2000, PrimeTime Fitness has catered to the mature exerciser and offers personal and small group training, indoor cycling, yoga, golf fitness training, monthly gym membership, and more. Meredith can be reached with your fitness questions at 843-883-0101, or Meredith@primetimefit.net.