The whole point of my mentor messages is to help normalize what everyone who has ever been to an Olympics knows – the Olympics are different. We say the difference is more than just Citius, Altius, Fortius because families, sponsors, media and nations treat the Games differently, but who’s kidding who? – an athlete’s desire to go/be Faster, Higher, Stronger than anyone else is a massive part of why this year feels harder, unique, special, etc. etc to them. This month I really wanted to be sure that no one at the Olympics takes them by surprise.
When I was training for my first Games, the veteran on our team, Lesley Thompson-Willie, repeatedly told / warned us; “You have to watch out, people step-up in an Olympic year.” In an Olympic year there would always be at least one ‘dark-horse’ threat. Someone who wasn’t much to worry about in the previous year, she told us, would go home with a medal. As World Champions, she wanted to be sure that we didn’t get caught simply training for another year and then get passed by a dark horse, by those who were hungry – if not desperate – to succeed at the Olympics.
Have you ever been 4th in a really important race/competition? I was twice. My heart ached and I was consumed with a fire to do better next time. I became so hungry to win and, almost more so, desperate to not be broken hearted again.