A Tale of Three Athletes
I recently spectated at a race. A kid’s triathlon. I love these events. Not only are we getting more and more of our youth involved in a life-long sport and teaching the life lessons of hard work and perseverance, but we see ourselves in our youth and it’s exciting.
There were three in particular who encapsulate the lessons that we adults can learn from them.
Persevere. Nine year old “Annie” is small of stature. She was towered over by just about everyone else. She had the right to feel inferior, if for no other reason than this. It was apparent she was also about to start her first open water triathlon swim. At the start, she got in and freestyled her way, mid-pack, toward the first buoy. About 2/3 of the way there, so pulled up, panicked and crying. Volunteers made their way to her and calmed her down. She just about quit, started swimming toward the shore. But she changed her mind. She started backstroking. She was now dead last. But she kept going. Now some breaststroke. She passed one, then two, then five. She exited the water well behind, but she kept going. Against time, odds, size. She ended up winner her age division. She just about gave up, but ended up winning. Huge smile.
Overcome the hurdles in front of you. Keep pushing, you don’t know what might happen.
Fear can cripple. Seven year old “Suzie” was about the start the race. Her parents, both accomplished triathletes, arguably prepared her for the event. But fear froze her. She stood at the line, ankle deep in water, crying for fear of the water. She did not want to do this. She was afraid. Mom and Dad spoke with her about putting her fear away and moving forward, but it was of little use. The gun went off, Suzie ran away from the water. Her day was over. Then, she realized what this meant. She couldn’t ride the bike course. She couldn’t run the run course. She wouldn’t get her finisher’s medal. Without hesitation she sprinted into the water and swam the course. She finished the race and stood on the podium for her division.
Fear is scary, but fear is only in our heads. Push through.
Love The Sport. Six year old “Cole” was pretty happy-go-lucky all morning. He was all smiles. The gun went off and he took to freestyle and was doing well. Then he stopped, looked around, and kicked for a while. Then freestyle. He was all over the course. He tried to talk with a few volunteers. He was efficient in transition, then got on his bike. He rode the course looking around, waving like he was in a parade, all with a huge smile on his face. On the run he constantly spoke—to himself, no one else was around. He waved more to spectators and volunteers, and He sprinted for the line against his shadow, and then hung out like everyone else after with his hands on his knees…then went to talking and chatting everyone up again. He loved the experience. He loved the sport. He was out there to enjoy and hive fun. He did not end up on the podium and was sad for that for a few moments, but spoke after the awards ceremony of training and racing harder so he could get a trophy next time.
His excitement for our sport was infectious, like ours should be. We’re in this to have fun, so have fun.
The best thing we can do at times is watch the youth around us and take lessons from them.