Young Women at the Rio Olympics and What We Can Learn

Blog Post created by john.sequeira Advocate on Aug 22, 2016

At the end of every summer Olympic  Games, I seem to get a renewed shot of patriotism and hopefulness about the current generation of athletes. They were all so inspiring! This year a couple of things were said and done that I thought were worth passing on to those who either didn’t hear them or were not glued to their televisions every night like I was.  The first was Katie Ledecky, who is the current rising star of USA women swimmers.  She blew away all her competition, broke a world record and is only nineteen years old.  While her accomplishments were impressive, it’s what she said in that hit home.  When interviewed after all her races were complete, she was asked how she accomplished such extraordinary success during these Olympic Games.  Her answer was simple and to the point.  “I set big dreams, I worked really hard and had the belief that good things would happen”.  WOW! How profound and what great words to live by for all us.  I encourage all of you to Set Big Dreams, Work Really Hard and Have the Belief that Good Things Will Happen to You!!!

The second big takeaway for me was from the Women’s Gymnastics.  I’ve loved watching them perform for decades and am extraordinarily impressed with what they are able to do.  But again I want to profile something that was done by the five member team that showed extraordinary maturity and thankfulness.  If you follow the sport, you were aware there was a lot of hype about them winning the team Gold Medal and what they would name themselves if they won.  In 2012, the U.S. women dominated, won the gold and were deemed the Fabulous Five.  Leading up to the games the team was asked, if you win what will you call yourselves?  They told everyone it was a secret and if they won, they would announce after the scores were final.  There was a lot of speculation around very cute names they might call themselves.  No one got it right.  When it was all said and done and they destroyed the competition and won the gold medal handily, they announced their name was going to be the Final Five!

The name was chosen for two reasons.  First it was a tribute to their coach Marta Karolyi, who had brought the women’s program to the pinnacle of the sport. She was retiring after these Olympics and therefore this was her final Olympic Team.  The second reason is that the Gymnastics Federation was changing the rules going forward and there would no longer be five on a team but instead only four.  I want to focus on the first reason these young women (all under 20 years old I might add), decided to name themselves the Final Five.  It wasn’t about them.  It was about their coach who brought them there.  A woman who had given her life to the sport and had influenced the lives of these young women and so many others before them and now was leaving the sport at the top of her game.  These young women recognized and wanted to honor her.  What an extraordinarily mature thing to do for women who were so young and so accomplished.  This was a fitting reminder to me and I’m encouraging you to thank all the people around you who have contributed to your success.  Maybe it was a teacher, a former boss, a mentor, a good friend or maybe even a coach.   We don’t get to where we are on our own.  This is an important reminder for all of us.