The 2012 Summer Olympics are right around the corner! This year they are scheduled to
take place in London, United Kingdom, from July 27 to August 12. The Olympics bring countries all over the world together to participate in the greatest sporting competition on the planet. Although each country speaks a different language and has different ideologies, for 2 weeks, every 4 years, the nations of the world unite under one flag ─ the Olympic
The Olympics would not be the extraordinary global event that it is, if it not for the hard-working, dedicated athletes who play in the Olympic Games. Since the foundation of modern Olympiad, generations of athletes, both men and women, have dedicated their lives to out-running, out-swimming, and out-performing those they compete against and all the generations before them.
These amazing athletes, like California-born, twelve-time Olympic medalist, Dara Torres (the first and only U.S. swimmer to compete in five Summer Olympic Games) are an inspiration to me. Training for years to prepare, physically and mentally for the opportunity to represent our country, Dara symbolizes what a woman with a dream can accomplish when her heart, mind, body and spirit are focused on a goal.
Still, not every athlete will go home with a coveted Gold, Silver or Bronze Medal. And this year, Olympic star, Dara Torres, at the age of forty-five, didn’t make the 2012 U.S. swimming team. “Missing it by less than one-tenth of a second is tough,” she said “but I’m really happy with how I did.”
I grew up a competitive swimmer with a dream to one day make the Olympic team. In high school I was the only freshmen girl to make the varsity team. Surrounded by girls who were bigger, stronger, and faster, most of my swim meets that first year ended with me in last place. When finals came around, I was one of the few girls without a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. That is what fueled a fire inside me!
I dedicated myself to getting stronger and faster in hopes of getting a medal and helping my swim team get first place in league. With a lot of hard work and dedication I did just that. By the end of my junior year, I had won a silver medal in every race I swam, but my sights were set on gold. My senior year season started strong, and there was no doubt in my mind that I was fast enough to reach my goal. Three weeks into the season, I was in a car accident that put me in the hospital for a week and out of the pool for the remainder of the year.
Devastated to not be able to swim that final season, I knew the opportunity to win my desired Gold medal had passed me by. But I did discover a new appreciation for life and for all the moments that we often take for granted. Tracy Austin, a former World Number One female professional tennis player, had a similar realization after she too was injured in a bad car accident. You can read her inspiring story, “Seeing the Big Picture” in Life Moments for Women or on our website this month.
Setting goals and working towards them is important, but winning a Gold Medal does not define a person. Hard work, dedication, determination, passion and grace under pressure determine who we really are. Only three Olympic athletes in each event will go home with a medal, but all of them are winners just by making it there.
UCSB Graduate, 2012
Life Moments for Women Intern