This is the first Olympic Games of which I watched in its entirety (well, almost). I’ve been completely captivated by the Olympic athletes, their skill and their determination. I’ve been moved by so much of what I’ve seen, not only by their endless talent, but by their character as well.
Many of the Olympic athletes I’ve watched have inspired me. The athletes, many of whom are 15 to 20 years my junior, are undeniable leaders who demonstrate strong character and lead by example every step of the way. They teach us to be better people and are wonderful role models for all of us. My favorite traits that I’ve seen demonstrated:
1. Resilience: Although each and every one of the Olympians are winners, disappointments, setbacks and losses are inevitable. Yet, the Olympic athletes compete as though each race or competition is their first. Even after a loss, they can come back to ultimately win the gold.
Favorite of 2012: Five days after losing the tie-breaker for Bronze in the women’s gymnastics all-around, Aly Raisman won a tie-breaker for Bronze on beam and became the first American to earn Gold on floor.
2. Sportsmanship: Even when the Olympic athletes are defeated, they are gracious and supportive of the individuals who have won.
Favorite of 2012: Although Jordyn Wieber placed fourth in qualifying for the women’s gymnastics all-around, she did not compete due to a two-person per country rule (and two of her teammates were in the top three). Although devastated, she showed up and rooted for her teammates throughout the Olympic all-around competition.
3. Teamwork: Although athletes may compete against one another, they are still part of a team and know that they all need to work together to bring home the Gold.
Favorite of 2012: Although Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte competed against one another during individual races, they worked together to ultimately win the silver in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay, and the gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay.
4. Selflessness: Olympic athletes have demonstrated integrity for years. It is amazing how, at such a young age, they put aside their own fame and glory for the benefit of others. We saw Michael Phelps opt to give his butterfly spot up so Ian Crocker could swim in the final in the Olympic Games in Athens in 2004.
Favorite of 2012: Missy Frankel has stated that she won’t be accepting sponsorships (read: a LOT of money) so that she can continue swimming on her high school and potential collegiate swim teams.
5. Patriotism: It is truly beautiful when Olympic athletes take pride in representing their country and heritage, expressing gratitude and genuine love.
Favorite of 2012: As a “Lost Boy” of Sudan, spending 10 years of his life in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to America at the age of 16, Lopez Lamong received his American citizenship in 2007. He states, “I had been accepted into a country that I was proud of and, for the first time in my life, I had an identity. In 2008, as the team flag bearer, I realized the importance of the Olympic spirit — to unite the world’s athletes and proudly represent their countries in peace. I’m honored to be an ambassador for the United States as I travel to compete with the world’s greatest athletes and bring home Gold!”
6. Passion: The athletes bring extreme passion to their sport. They go into the games with fierce dedication, passion and true love for what they do. They give 150% to the game and to doing their best.
Favorite of 2012: In their third showing at the Olympic Games, there is no denying the passion of the dynamic duo women’s volleyball team – Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
7. Expressed Joy: Finally, with every win and accomplishment, the joy on the athletes’ faces and in their hearts is quite simply, infectious.
Favorite of 2012: Gabby Douglas, winning gold in the women’s all-around gymnastics competition.
Have you been watching the Olympic Games? What traits have you enjoyed seeing in our Olympic athletes?