Nobody cheers louder than I did when Michael Phelps and Team USA won their Olympic Gold on Sunday night. I do get just as excited though for our athletes or any athletes that don’t take home a medal either.
I am speaking about Mara Abbott and Gabby Douglas (and I do realize Gabby won the team Gold) and I understand that Gabby still has more chances to win Gold at Rio, in this blog I will reference her standings in the All-around qualifying.
My hat is off to Mara, she exemplified everything one could ask for her in her road race yesterday. She had grit, determination and for the latter part of the race she did it completely alone. Cycling is one of those unique sports where it is definitely an individual competition but some support from your teammates doesn’t hurt either. When other members of Team USA started dropping off on the final ascent I was saying “no, stay with her, she needs your help”. I always think it is so much easier to chase than be chased. Mara gave it her all, she left nothing on the table and I know it sounds so easy to say many cliché platitudes about her but they are all true and I know she didn’t win the race but she is the true winner in my book regardless if she has a medal to prove it or not. We always tell people to give it their best and that should be the reward in itself. It truly should be in Mara’s case.
As for Gabby, she is arguably one of the 3 best all-around gymnasts in the world. She gave her absolute best as well and it wasn’t enough to qualify. I can’t imagine how much that hurts to be the reigning Gold Medalist and not have the chance to defend your title when you are one of the three best competitors in the world. Not only must it be incredibly tough on her, which she handled with complete grace by the way. It also robs the whole world of the chance to one of the best athletes in the world performing at the peak of her career.
Mara and Gabby exemplify everything we should want an athlete to be. They left it all on the table. They will always be the true winners in my mind and if you have kids this is the kind of athlete and effort that they should exemplify.