I ❤️ The Olympics

I can’t remember how I fell madly in love with the Olympics–I’m certainly no athlete–I just know that I do love them and that I always have. The spirit, the excitement, that “anything can happen” and does, including massive triumph over adversity, oh and the world coming together (mostly) for the joy of the competition not over human strife and suffering.

Of course it goes without saying that athletes at this level are disciplined and focused, they must be in order to put in all that time and effort, every single day toward their sport. I find it so inspiring, and you can count on me for a good cry at some of the life stories. For sure.

As it turned out, my husband had a last minute work trip to Europe in the summer of 2012, and the timing worked out perfectly so I tagged along and we grabbed some of the  remaining tickets to table tennis. We got to see Natalia Partyka from Poland, born without an hand and most of her forearm, come from behind to defeat a more dominant Danish competitor. The crowd rallying behind the underdog, and her win is something I’ll never forget — a truly amazing Olympic moment.

That sick with-it, never give up, determination has stuck with me, gives me chills, along with countless other Olympic moments like it.  When athletes who are hurting or have no gas left in the tank come back to win for themselves or their team(Derek Redmond! Kerri Strug!), or even just finish the race even when finishing in last place would be the only outcome, I will marvel: “how do they do it?”

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Some of my favorite Phelps Focus TV screen snaps

Mind control, that’s what I finally got to when watching  Michael Phelps anchor the 4 x 200 meter freestyle medley during the Rio Olympics. I became fixated on watching where they place their attention. In particular, when the underwater camera was trained on Phelps as he powered down the lane for his last 50 meters, it was crystal clear that his mind and focus was trained on one place – the wall ahead, and he poured all of his attention and energy into where he wanted to be, and getting there fast .

We know how comparison to others can be debilitating, and come on, these Olympic events are races where athletes are competing against other people and the clock, but without controlling the fidgety-ness of the mind–completely an inside job–there’s no way these athletes could succeed. For me, it was a perfect reminder of how important it is even for me, not an elite athlete, but with goals of my own, to focus my mind on staying in my lane, and going forward, by keeping my head down and cutting it out with the comparisons.

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