You wonder what it takes for a thrower to get to the USAs, or the Olympics? It’s not for the weak.
Tomorrow is Day 1 of the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships. For 12 years of my life, this singular day dominated my every decision: when I slept, when I woke, what I ate, who I spent time with, where I lived . . . and a million other choices, both big and small.
I disliked Sunday hours and holidays when the gym was closed. Had no patience for whining at the ring or in the weightroom. I watched training videos until I got physically ill. I broke up with more than one girlfriend after a bad practice. I hated the rain.
It was a 24/365 laser focus on a singular goal. It paid almost nothing, but it meant everything to me.
The end result of all this dedication was, at times, utterly heartbreaking (being bumped off the 2002 World Cup team by a Balco drug cheat, missing the 2008 Olympic team despite taking 2nd at the Olympic Trials). More regrettably, truly good people were hurt along the way. Relationships were neglected, special occasions were missed, apologies were frequently made.
At other times, this constant pursuit proved vindicating (winning 2 [USA] Nationals, making 2 Olympic teams). But far more important than any title or award were the relationships formed – with coaches, athletes, and teammates – and the incredible opportunity to see the world.
Looking back now, I better understand how some viewed my 12 year decision to pursue this dream as completely absurd. But I wouldn’t change those memories and the relationships formed for the world.
Best of luck to all those competing this year.