The Olympic moments that transcend time are not a result of meaningless coincidence. Every Olympian has earned their right to be there. The talent, skill, and fitness that separate one Olympian from another are often negligible. What separates the athletes who rise to the occasion from the ones who don’t is their ability to be in a relationship with the moment, as it unfolds.
As athletes know all too well, no plan for your life will survive first contact with reality. Success isn’t attached to a specific way of unfolding. It comes when extreme preparation meets an openness to exactly what is in front of us.
It’s the ability to come back to our center, in the midst of the chaos that surrounds us.
It’s about knowing and relying on exactly who we are, in the darkness.
Joan Benoit Samuelson
Coach Julie: “The summer Olympics hold a special place in my heart; as a swimmer, this was what I dreamed of from the time I was 6. Every four years, glued to the TV watching the best athletes in the world compete on the World Stage. In my high school and college years, having friends and teammates qualify and go to the Olympics endeared me even more. But the most memorable Olympic moment for me was Joan Benoit Samuelson’s run into the Olympic Stadium in Los Angeles in 1984. My Mom and I were at the Games to watch swimming. Tickets to the marathon finish were easy to get, not the popularity of today. We sat in the stadium, and the crowd quieted as the giant screens showed her coming through the tunnel. At 18 years old, I was confused why this was the first time women were “allowed” to run that marathon. She was small, filled with energy, and looked so strong, and the crowd erupted in cheers. We stood with tears streaming down our faces, screaming. I will never forget it.”
Coach Alison feels so strongly about Kerri Strug’s Olympic moment in 1996 that she reenacts it before every Olympics for her family. Watch the video to see for yourself.
1984 US Men’s Ice Hockey Team
Coach Laura: “Ok fine, I’ll admit that I was not alive in 1984, but I’ve watched the movie Miracle enough times to feel like I was basically there.
While I love the simplicity of unlocking top-level performances in individual sports, team sports have always held a special place in my heart. The best teams are not necessarily comprised of the best athletes. There has to be a commitment to the whole that is greater any one team member’s accolades, statistics, or ego. The sense that you’re playing for something bigger than yourself is built-in and mandatory for success at the highest level. As Herb Brooks tells his team in the scene below, ‘Gentlemen, you don’t have enough talent to win on talent alone.’
The 1984 US Men’s Ice Hockey Team was a group of amateurs playing against the dominant 4x defending gold medal Soviet team. Leading up to their Olympic matchup, the USSR had won all 12 matchups with the US between the 1960 and 1980 Olympics, outscoring the Americans 117-26. While the US team’s victory in Lake Placid was a carefully orchestrated masterpiece by Coach Herb Brooks, it was also most definitely a miracle.”
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES?!
Side note: The athlete check-in at Ironman Lake Placid is in the building where the Miracle on ice took place. You can walk right into the “Herb Brooks Arena” and feel the magic that still lives there.