Like millions of Americans, I have been glued to my TV screen since the start of the 2012 London Olympic games. My usual evening programming has been diverted to DVR and replaced with swimming, diving, and, my favorite, gymnastics. There’s nothing quite like bearing witness to athletes in their prime, showing the world what they’re made of.
As you likely know (unless you’ve been living under a rock), this has been a big week for Team USA in Women’s gymnastics. The media was abuzz when world champion Jordyn Wieber failed to qualify for a shot at all-around Olympic gold. The raw emotions we saw as her dreams were crushed in front of billions of viewers was simply gut wrenching.
Somehow, though, young Jordyn was able to pick herself up within a day. ”After the biggest disappointment of her gymnastic life… Jordyn Wieber got down to business,” said Mark Sappenfield. “There were some tears,” Coach Geddert said, “about five minutes’ worth – and some loving words from her teammates. Then, it was time to get to work. Because, that is just what Jordyn Wieber does.”
Boy, what an understatement! Forever etched in my memory is the moment when the camera zoomed in on her face as she stood in the starting position of her floor routine during team finals. With determined eyes she stared right through the camera into each of our living rooms as if to say, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”
Jordyn’s smile during her final performance was incredible to see. She knew she had it every step of the way. She was having fun out there. Most importantly, despite crushed dreams, Jordyn continued to live her passion in front of billions of viewers. It was an incredible moment for Jordyn and all who understood her struggle.
There is much to be learned from Jordyn’s incredible resiliency:
“The sting of this injustice is painful,” Coach Geddert said about the change in rules that rendered Jordyn (a favorite for gold) ineligible to compete in the all-around finals. Jordyn reminds us that, however painful, unfair rules exist in Olympics and in real life. Sometimes they are contestable, and sometimes not. We might not always like the rules, but we usually have to play by them to stay in the game. Make sure you understand the rules so that you can be your best self given the parameters.
Since the start of Jordyn’s gymnastics career at age 4, she has spent uncountable hours training rigorously for a shot at the biggest title in the gymnastics world. Despite the blood, sweat, and tears that went into that moment, her best efforts fell short at game time. Jordyn reminds us that even the best of us make mistakes (sometimes publicly), despite our most sincere efforts. We also learn that there will likely always be someone who is better than us at something. I know, the truth hurts, doesn’t it? But if you can accept that, you can be empowered to be the very best that you can be without the undue pressures of perfection.
Aly Raisman surprised Jordyn and the world when she earned the second spot in the all-around team finals. To add insult to injury, USAToday explained that Aly and Jordan “grew up together on the mat, traveled the world together, cried with each other, and giggled their way through life. On Sunday, one friend’s greatest joy was another friend’s greatest disappointment.”
”I had to pull myself together and move on and be stronger mentally for the team,” Jordyn said. She reminds us that sometimes we have to put her own heartbreak aside to support the dreams of others. She also teaches us that sometimes the bigger picture is more important than our immediate feelings or concerns. “It’s always important, no matter how hard or painful it is, to finish what you started,” said Nastia Liukin, 2008 Olympian.
Jordyn has an incredible support system. From her parents to her mentors, fellow athletes, and fans, when Jordyn’s world started spinning, support flooded in. ”Sometimes, you just need a friend,” said teammate Maroney, who gave Jordyn a peptalk after the devastating outcome. ”I’m telling you,” dad David Wieber said. “It makes a big difference when someone has got your back.”
Jordyn teaches us that it is important to surround ourselves with good people who care for us and support our dreams. She also teaches us that sometimes you have to give yourself positive affirmations to keep your head in the game. “I don’t want to get distracted, or worry about anything else going on around me, so I have key words for each routine, and I only think about those exact words,” she explains. She uses phrases like “tight body” or “strong” at various points in the routine, even in practice. ”I think them at the same time, for the same skill, in every routine, and it gives me confidence.”
“There still is a way for her to hear that anthem, maybe just not in the way she planned,” said one Olympic commentator. These comments proved true when Jordan and her teammates brought home the first Olympic title in women’s gymnastics since 1996. ”To have this gold medal around your neck, it’s really an indescribable feeling,”, Jordyn beamed.
Through this triumph, Jordyn teaches us that sometimes we have to put one dream aside in order to move to another. ”Redemption is a heck of a motivator, and today was redemption!” said Coach Geddert proudly. It seems she is not quite done yet, either. Jordyn still has a chance to follow up this gold with a medal in the individual floor exercise competitions. She is favored to do just that.
Seventeen-year-old Jordyn Wieber reminds us that life can change in a millisecond. We might make mistakes, fall short in our efforts, or face unfair rules, but with support and determination, we can still be triumphant.
Though our dreams may not always come true in the ways we have imagined, like Jordyn, we should practice resiliency and show the world what we’ve got anyway. Whichever way you chase your fire, I hope that you (as Jordyn said to her teammates prior to their final meet) “Make it something to remember!”
Happy rebounding, friends!
Photograph by Robert Deutsch – USAToday
Tagged with: accomplishment • advice • crushed dreams • disappointment • jordyn wieber • living the dream • motivation • olympic games • passion • perseverance • resiliency • self • success tips • team usa • world champion
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