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Champions don't become champions in the ring, they are merely recognized there.


'Tis the Olympic season. I love this season. I look forward to it every two years. What I love most about this season is the emotion and the intensity that is portrayed in almost every single event! I love the highs - individuals breaking world records and receiving gold medals. And no matter how hard it is to watch, I also love the lows, the mistakes, the unmet expectations, the disappointments.

Often as we watch the Olympics, we sit in awe at the incredible ability and feats that these supposed super-humans display. Frequently we, on our comfortable couches, relax and think how blessed these individuals are because of the great God-given talents that they have. But is it really all about the talent? I think not!

You see, what I love more than anything is the special stories about the actual Olympian. The descriptions of the challenges, set backs and hurdles they have had to go through in order to find their place in Rio. I love the interviews, which detail out the meticulously scheduled routines and workouts which have fill each and every one of their days, often for years and even decades leading up to the "big event." What I think that most of us forget is that each day when we celebrate a win, when we recognize a champion with a medal, we simply rewarding not for what they actually did on the field, but more for what they have done in the days, weeks, months and years before ever setting foot in Rio. What I am getting at is that these world-class athletes became such because of their daily agenda.

Can a Cross-Country Runner Do It?

I can actually relate to this quite well. Although I am not nor have I ever been an Olympian, I gained status, placed multiple times at state competitions and received a full-ride scholarship in distance running. This all actually started the summer after my 8th grade year. I was sitting in my cousin's bedroom. For two summers, we lived next to each other and chose to spend most our days together. On this particular day I was laying on his bed, simply relaxing through the carefree day. Although I'd seen them before, this day I happened to notice and take great interest in the plethora of medals that decorated the wall above his headboard. Travis, my cousin, was a track and field athlete and would be entering his senior year soon. His wall was proof that he had become a great success as a sprinter and hurdler for the local high school. Right there, on this lazy day, I determined that I wanted to be like Travis. I wanted to have medals and I wanted to feel the power of being important for a team.

I thought that this would be quite easy to ascertain. Little did I was definitely not going to come easy. I started almost immediately by joining the cross country team. Every day we met together as a team and our coach worked us through grueling workouts, often running distances over five miles. But that was only the beginning. Later, I build into my day a morning run routine, a weightlifting routine, a high carb diet and strict sleep plan. I was certain to attain a medal during the season with all of this, right? Wrong again.

To be honest, I ran miles, some in the morning some in the afternoon, ate and slept correctly and did weight or stretching exercises EVERY DAY and did not earn a single medal that entire season. Nor did I take any place of mention during the indoor track season of my 9th grade year. I thought for sure I would during spring track and field, but this did not happen. The same thing occurred during my entire sophomore year - a lot of work outs, a lot of races and still no medal.

It's Medal Time!

Finally, in August previous to my 11th grade year, after nearly 730 days of working out, I lined up for the Murray Invitational. It was a calm, windless day with a perfect running temperature. I felt good and had come close to placing a number of times previously. The 5K started off exceptionally well, I could feel the power of all of those workouts. The deep drive to get a medal swelled within me and gave me the motivation to push hard after the first mile, a typical hard spot. The cheering of my parents helped me after mile two and I still remember the surprised look of my father as I came off the last hill in a placing position. With great exertion, I pushed as hard as I possibly could and finished in personal record time, placing 3rd overall - a place that receives a medal.

The rest is history. Many races and many medals. I even exceeded my dreams when I started getting plaques, trophies and scholarship offers. I had made it, but what did it take - years of staying focused on my daily routine.

So the next time we see "talent," the next time we envy someone because of their success, let us consider how much it has taken each of these individuals to get to where they are at. Even more importantly:

Where do you want to go and what are you doing DAILY to get there?

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