What College Students Can Learn From an Olympic Gymnast?
Sacrifice. A key factor in what it takes to have a chance at Olympic gold. It’s not just giving up two weeks or even a year of one’s life. For most Olympic athletes, from the moment they have chosen a sport, they are expected to sacrifice their childhood to qualify for the big stage: the Olympics. Most of these kids, from middle school through high school, are homeschooled so they can put more of their time into training for the grand stage. While for some, this may seem insane or completely over the top for a sport, in reality, this type of dedication exemplifies what is needed to be successful at the very top of any field.
The Olympic sport that is historically known to take immense dedication is gymnastics. Gabrielle Douglas made herself a household name by winning the 2012 individual all-around gold medal at the London Olympics. When she was just three years old, she started her mission to qualify for the Olympics. At age eight, she became the Virginia State gymnastics champion and six years later, at the age of 14, she made a decision that could have been the turning point in her young gymnastics career. She decided to move 3,000 miles away from her family in Virginia Beach to train with elite coach Liang Chow, in Des Moines, Iowa. With Chow as her coach, Douglas competed in her first elite meet at the 2010 Covergirl Classic in Chicago, Illinois. With these personal sacrifices, Douglas became the first African American to win the gold medal in the Olympic individual all-around.
Jordyn Wieber, recent USA team gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, started her quest for the Olympics at the age of four. When she was eight, she was involved with her first competition, the 7th Annual Twistars Invitational. She placed sixth in that competition and nine years later, at the 2012 Olympics, she won the team gold medal for the US Olympic Women’s Gymnastics Team. Throughout a nine year time period, Wieber has competed, including the Olympic trials, in approximately 65 competitions. Her Olympic partner, Alexandra Raisman, has a similar story. According to USAgym.org, Raisman became involved with gymnastics at the age of two, when her mom signed her up for “mommy and daughter” classes at their local gym. Since then, she has sacrificed 16 years of her life to acquiring the Olympic gold.
Clearly, these Olympic champions proved that with great sacrifice comes great reward. Yet, they also showed the world that in order to be a champion in any career; one needs to dedicate large portions of their lives to the goal of being the world’s best. Finally, for these young stars, even after winning the gold, their careers are just beginning.