One of the many people you’ll want to keep an eye out for at this year’s Games is Kamara James, who is the daughter of one of our very own gate agents at Kennedy Airport in New York. This 19-year-old Princeton student is headed to Athens to represent the U.S. in women’s fencing, specifically the épée. The U.S. has never won an Olympic medal in any discipline of women’s fencing, but between James and the Jacobson sisters (click here for their story), this might be our year.
Something that always amazes me when I hear these athletes’ stories is the amount of time and determination that goes into becoming an Olympic contender, and what things must be put on hold in order for them to achieve their dreams. But aside from the fact that these people represent the best in the world, are they really all that different from you and me (okay, you)?
I had this thought as I rollerbladed one day past soccer fields that are generally filled with ambitious 8- to 16-year-old phenoms. This particular evening, the fields were filled with men who had obviously just shed their suits and wingtips for soccer jerseys and cleats. Although their average age was probably about 50, they played just as hard (and just as well, I might add) as the junior versions of themselves.
It was their enthusiasm and endurance that got me thinking that, although there are no public competitions, glitzy TV shows, or gold medals, our struggles and triumphs — dealing with sickness, children, promotions, bills, careers, education, and so much more — make us all Olympians. Whether it’s for work or school or family, we are all training, learning, competing, and striving to do our very best every day. Or at least we should be.
So as you get sucked into the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat that will be experienced by the incredible athletes competing in Greece this month, give yourself (or your coworker or family member) a pat on the back for the everyday wins and losses. It may not be worth as much as a gold medal, but it will be just as valuable.
SHERRI GULCZYNSKI BURNS