Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Olympian lessons learned

Lessons to be learned from the Olympians?

By Melissa Isaacson | Chicago Tribune Olympic Bureau
August 20, 2008

BEIJING — Forty years ago this October, Bob Beamon stood ready to accept his gold medal in Mexico City following one of the greatest athletic feats of our time. He was struck by an anxiety so great he remembers it vividly.

"The strangest thing happened on the medal stand," Beamon said. "I was very happy to have represented the United States and my family, and then the most interesting feeling came over me. I suddenly thought to myself, 'What do I do next?' "

His perspective has shifted with the passage of time, the answer to his question so long ago answered many times over.
What were Olympic champions thinking as they accepted their medals? And how have the memories and perceptions of their feats changed over the years?
Kwan, now 28, also thought of the years of work she had put in just to be able to stand on that podium.
"That really does flash back at you, and all the wonderful moments, all the falls, the spills," she said. "But being up there, you're like, 'Wow, this really is what it's all about.' "

"But the first time, yes, it is a blur. In swimming, you're paraded up to the medal podium immediately after the swim, so you still have all the endorphins and adrenaline. … I hate to use the word 'surreal' because it's so overused, but it's a word that's appropriate when you're up there and hearing the national anthem played and you're receiving a medal that justifies a lifetime spent working toward one goal."

For Beamon,.. said he spoke to himself as the national anthem played that day in Mexico City.
"As I stood on that stand, I started to understand there are other things in life to address," he said. "Graduation from college was one."He would accomplish that in 1972, graduating from Delphi University, and he worked to shake the thought that nothing could match up to his almost supernatural feat, which broke the existing world record by 213/4 inches."Basically what I was looking for was anything to outdo that experience," Beamon said. "But as the years went by, I think other experiences became peak experiences. I have a wonderful daughter (Deanna) who's 24. I got married to my high school girlfriend (Rhonda)."


"I haven't always had perfect days," he said, "but I've always used it as a way of bouncing back. I also use it as a hook for younger kids to have some visual understanding of how hard work and great effort can bring you good results."

"My father always said, 'Appreciate everything,' " she said. "The life of an athlete is short, so I've always known that. I'll just be telling more stories when I'm old and gray. You can paint them a little more colorfully then."

1. Regular experiences can be peak experiences-life cycle
2. After a peak experience what is next? Use it as a way to bounce back and reminder hard work can pay.
3. Life is short. Appreciate everything.

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