Because it’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Ordinary, in that they are relatable. Perhaps some of the competitors remind us of a younger version of ourselves, our friends, our neighbors, or maybe even some of our kid’s friends. Most will never make money from the sport they choose but still, they put their life on hold for 4 or 8 (or more) years for a shot at standing on the podium to see their country’s flag raised and hear their national anthem, all for the love of their sport.
Which leads me to Ester Ledecka.
My favorite moment was the night the announcer said…”Up next a surprise in the women’s super-G coming up after the break.” Surprise? My immediate thought was some celebrity was in the crowd and they would be showing them cheering from the sidelines. We would have to hear about some NBC show they were about to star in and it would be a shameless plug by the network. Never did I dream it would be that Ester Ledecka…aka the “snowboarder” …who had just won gold in the women’s super-G in Alpine skiing. She was the final skier to come down. The announcer had all but announced the winners and moved on to a different sport. She did what no one expected. Win the gold medal in her second sport…and then later in her first, snowboarding. After her unexpected win, she did the press conference with her goggles on because she said she didn’t even put on make-up since no one would see her anyway. (Yes, I’m compelled to write about how she should not have cared one bit about that make-up, but I will refrain). The look on her face was priceless.
Why do we love the Olympics? Underdog gold medalists. People sacrificing everything for a few minutes of glory. Stories about how the parents sacrifice to get their kids to the meets. To connect to that part that is in all of us that would like to be standing on that podium. (If I were to be honest, I tuned in to see what Johnny Weir would wear as well).
In a world where most million-dollar athletes have become un-relatable, we get a glimpse of glory through the eyes of people just like us. Well…just like us if you train 8 hours a day for 10 years (or more), put your life on hold, and sacrifice everything for a few minutes to stand on the podium, watch your country flag rise, and hear your anthem.
When was the last time you were that passionate about anything? My guess is the answer is probably ”too long.” It’s not too late to have your moment. Seriously. What could you do between now and the next Olympics to mirror that kind of dedication? Knowing you might not get a gold medal but you WILL get that feeling of satisfaction that comes by pursuing something so wholeheartedly, it leaves you spent but content. If nothing comes to mind, set aside 30 minutes in the next 7 days and take a swing at answering these questions:
1. Why do you love the Olympics?
2. What is your Olympic moment yet to happen?
3. Where are you “leaving it all on the field?”
4. What are you most passionate about?
5. What are you NOT doing now that you wish you were?
You might not get a gold medal by answering any of these questions but very few athletes ever do…and yet…they are all fulfilled because they dared to try.
Read more on the Ester Ledecka story and see a video of her historic win here.