Hurdles, Fences and the Olympics

I am an Olympic junkie. I love to watch the games, hear the stories of how the athletes overcame great obstacles to get where they are today and learn details of countries I might not otherwise hear. When I was teaching students, they knew they could always get a good lesson applied through an Olympic story. Heads up, I’m going to be sharing lessons and adventures from my viewing!

Adventure – an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity, an escapade or experience. The only thing I really disagree with in the typical definition is the word “unusual”. Mainly because I think even the usual can turn into an adventure. Yes, purists will argue the usual becomes unusual and thus adventurous, but the usual can be a very exciting experience….it’s just perspective.

Back to the Olympics. Ordinary individuals play an ordinary game, but it ignites a fire within them. The usual becomes exciting! This fire grows and through hard work, dedication and probably blood, sweat, and tears; an Olympic athlete is born!

When I was in elementary school, I loved to run. While most girls were dreaming of being Miss Texas, I was dreaming of standing on a podium while the national anthem was played. Now, Nadia raised the bar in 1976 and many wanted to become the next “10” but I knew I wasn’t going to be a gymnast; I’m a dreamer, but I’m realistic too. I wanted to run like Edwin Moses.

Moses flew over the hurdles setting a world record and in my mind, I could do that too! So I set out to practice.  I lived out in the country and ran and jumped all over the pasture. One day I decided I could practice hurdles by jumping a fence.

I backed up from the fence to get a good running start, with visions of Moses in my mind I ran toward the fence. Cue the national anthem! The wind whipping my hair, my legs going as fast as they could, I jumped into the air to clear the fence. Perfect form! Unbeknownst to me, there was a hot wire above the fence to keep a bull in. As I perfectly jumped into the air, that wire caught me just beneath my chin and the force threw me right back on the ground. Cue wah, wah, wah, wahhh.

As I laid there in the dirt, the bull looking at me like I was an idiot, I saw my dreams of Olympic hurdles fading; maybe I should just run straight down the lanes and forget trying to jump things! That fall didn’t deter me, I ran for fun and competition from 4th grade to my senior year of high school (no, not hurdles, I left that for my good friend, Vicki). No, I didn’t become an Olympic athlete, but the 1976 Olympics began a fire inside me that burns brightly to this day as I enjoy watching those that do stand on the podium.

Moses went on to collect 122 victories in ten plus years, running on the Olympic team in 1976, 1984 and 1988. But his impact was beyond his gold medals, he pioneered drug policies for the Olympic committee and promotes training for disadvantaged youth to this day. Something as ordinary as running became very adventurous.

I’m curious, what would you consider ordinary in your day that might inspire others?