Dear Youth Olympians...

By Team USA | Aug. 15, 2014, 9:30 a.m. (ET)

We, the athletes of Team USA, hereby declare our support for the 2014 U.S. Youth Olympic Team - a team that is 92 strong in person, with millions more supporting from home. We eagerly await watching our peers and future Olympians compete in Nanjing, China, Aug. 16- 28, and are thrilled to show our support with the letters below.

David Boudia (diving, 2012 Olympic gold and bronze medalist)

Dear Youth Olympian,

This is it. This is your time, your moment. The moment you have been waiting for… one that you have trained day in and day out for. But slow down for a second. Take a deep breath and soak it all in.

Now time to get perspective:

You are not only representing the Red, White and Blue, but also the millions of us who cannot be there to cheer you on. And also those who have given up so much so that you can be standing where you are right now. You have prepared so hard for this moment, now you just have to trust in your training and believe that you are ready. Stay in the present and listen to the wisdom and advice of your coaches.

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden put it this way, "If you focus on the things that you can’t control, then it will adversely affect the things you can control." Meaning, stop focusing on what place you can get or how good your other competitors are… that is out of your control. Begin focusing on what you can control and that is you game. You are ready for this!

Now, take another deep breath and go out there to have fun and do what you do best!

Good luck!
David Boudia

Kayla Harrison (judo, 2012 Olympic gold medalist)

Dear Youth Olympians,

Congratulations on making the Youth Olympic Team! What an achievement! I can remember going to London with so much excitement and nervous energy - not knowing what to expect, but aiming high. It was my first Olympics and an experience I will never forget. It was an amazing inspiration just to be there among the world’s greatest athletes. I can still picture walking into the Opening Ceremony and being overcome with awe. When I felt the heat from the Olympic flame on my face -- GAME ON! :)

One of my the biggest surprises and most rewarding experiences of the Games was being able to watch and cheer on my USA teammates. The Games is filled with the triumphs of victory and the agony of defeat, and being able to be there for my fellow athletes was something I’ll never regret. So cheer on and cheer loud!

I can honestly say I don’t have any regrets from my experience in London. Meeting new people, making life-long friends, and getting to show the world the sport I love in all its glory was truly an honor. And doing so as a member of Team USA is the biggest privilege of all.

I know you're enthusiastic, nervous and probably just ready to get there and do what you do best, but remember to enjoy the journey. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long and fulfilling career. Best of luck to you all. Go, compete hard, and leave it all out there. And remember to have fun while you’re doing it! You’ve worked diligently to get there - you deserve it! GO TEAM USA!

Best Wishes,
Kayla Harrison

Track and field athlete Kellie Wells poses for a portrait during the NBC Olympics/U.S. Olympic Committee promotional shoot on Nov. 17, 2011 in West Hollywood, California.
Kellie Wells (track & field - 100-meter hurdles, 2012 Olympic bronze medalist)

Dear Team USA!

Doesn’t the sound of that just make you smile?! My name is Kellie Wells and I am the Olympic bronze medalist from 2012 in the 100-meter hurdles! First, I would like to start by saying good luck to each and every one of you! Being a part of the U.S. Olympic Team and winning a medal has to be the highlight of my life thus far. Running the finals in London in front of 100,00 people live and millions all over the world touched me in a way I can hardly explain. London was my first Olympics and I can say I had such a great experience. I got a chance to see the beautiful city of London, make new friends, bond with existing ones, and watch new sports. I wanted to soak in every bit of what I was going to experience and I did just that. It was the most fun I’ve ever had running in my 30 years of living.

If I could offer some advice from my experience, I would say:

1. Have fun! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, just have fun!
2. Have confidence in your skills and your craft.
3. Take a million pictures.
4. Listen to your coaches and team staff, they have been there before and have your best interest at heart.
5. Be the most fierce competitor you’ve ever been in your life!!!!!

I truly hope my words and suggestions help! You all are the future of Team USA and I’m so excited to pass the torch to such an amazing group of individuals!

Please feel free to reach out to me for anything!! I can be found on Twitter and Instagram @KellieWellz and Facebook as Kellie Wells… I always answer back!!!

Good luck, God speed, and many blessings!!
Kellie Wells

Triathlete Gwen Jorgensen poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 14, 2012 in Dallas.

Gwen Jorgensen (triathlon, 2012 Olympian, first woman to win six World Triathlon Series titles)

Dear Youth Olympian,

Congratulations! You have arrived in Nanjing and have asserted yourself as one of the best in your country. This is a huge honor, and something to be proud of. Your success is a product of your focus on excellence and hard work.

In the Olympics, you do not usually have to do something extraordinary. Focus on the processes that you work on daily in your sport. If you can replicate what you’ve done in past training sessions, success can be yours.

Although you don’t have to do something superhuman to succeed, you will need to be focused and it will be difficult. Remember to suffer, work hard, and learn throughout the journey.

Talk to other athletes and enjoy the atmosphere. Celebrate and enjoy these moments. They are not to be taken for granted.

Best Wishes,
Gwen Jorgensen

Chellsie Memmel (gymnastics, 2008 Olympic silver medalist)

Hey Youth Olympians,

First of all, congratulations on making it to the Youth Olympic Games!

You have already achieved so much by making it this far, and have earned the opportunity to compete on the world's stage, representing yourself, your teammates and your country.

Wearing the red, white and blue competing for the USA is a huge honor, and a feeling that I will always cherish.

My best advice to you is to really take it all in. You've done everything you can to prepare so trust that you're ready to compete. You've worked so hard to make it here so make sure you don't forget to enjoy the whole experience. Introduce yourself to other athletes, take lots of pictures, and truly live in the moment! These are special memories and experiences that will live within you forever...and don't forget to have fun while doing it!

Good luck!
Chellsie Memmel

Morgan Hamm (gymnastics, 2004 Olympic silver medalist)

Dear Youth Olympians,

Looking back at my first Olympic experience brings back memories of excitement, pride, dedication and perseverance. I made my first Olympic Team in 2000 when I was 17 years old in the sport of men’s gymnastics and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of what I could achieve if I worked hard enough and believed in my abilities. Although I did not win any medals at those Games, there was so much more that I could take home from the experience. I was able to meet athletes from all over the world, make new friends, and represent my country in a way that brings people together and puts aside any differences we may have for the sake of friendly competition.

I was lucky to make another Olympic Games in 2004 where our team won a silver medal. This moment meant so much to me, not because I was wearing a medal around my neck, but because of all of the hard work I had put in, and all of the people who had helped me get to my accomplishment. I had to fight past several injuries to make the team, but it all paid off. I could not have done it without my family and friends and my twin brother, Paul, supporting me the entire time.

One thing that I do regret about my Olympic experiences was that I was never able to participate in the Opening Ceremony. We always had to compete the next day so we decided to rest and stay fresh as a team. Still, I truly wish that I would have been able to do this. So my advice to you is to enjoy every moment, carpe diem (seize the day), and know why you are there and who helped you get to such an amazing accomplishment. Good luck, athletes!

Morgan Hamm

Hunter Kemper (triathlon, four-time Olympian)

To the U.S. Youth Olympic Team:

Let me start off by saying CONGRATULATIONS! What an amazing accomplishment you have already achieved by making the second ever summer Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, China. I can remember how excited I was to make my first ever U.S. Olympic Team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. I hope you realize what an honor it is to represent the USA and wear the stars and stripes uniform when you compete in Nanjing, China, over the next two weeks.

I've competed in four summer Olympic Games and every time I was excited about representing my country and doing my absolute best on the field of play. I encourage you to take it all in when you are in Nanjing these next two weeks. Meet athletes from other countries, experience the local culture, enjoy the athletes' village, walk in Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and cheer really loud for your other TEAM USA athletes! Remember that you are representing the greatest county in the world.

I look forward to cheering you all on from Colorado these next two weeks!

HAVE FUN and GO TEAM USA!!!
Hunter Kemper

Gymnast, Jonathan Horton poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 14, 2012 in Dallas.
Jonathan Horton (gymnastics, two-time Olympic medalist)

Hi Youth Olympic Athletes,

Congratulations! You have the honor of representing your country at one of the highest levels in sport. There is no feeling that compares to wearing “USA,” so wear it proud and walk with your head high.

As you begin to train in Nanjing, there are a few things to remember that my coach always taught me. First, never compromise what you do everyday. You will see other athletes training differently, maybe more, maybe less, and you may be tempted to change what you’re doing. Don’t change. Don’t compromise what you do because it’s what got you here.

Second, being the huge golf fan that he was, my coach taught me to always shoot for par. Success doesn’t come from trying to be perfect in the greatest moments. It comes from training like you compete and competing like you train. So when it’s your time to go, shoot for par and you may come up with a hole in one.

Finally, don’t forget to have some fun! You are here because you are great, and you love what you do. Soak in every moment, have a blast and bring home the hardware!

Good luck and safe travels,
Jonathan Horton

Tim Morehouse (fencing, 2008 Olympic silver medalist)

Dear Youth Olympic Athlete,

Congratulations on making it to the Youth Olympic Games! I remember my first Olympics in Athens and all of the excitement that came with participating in a worldwide competition with athletes from so many different countries in so many different sports. It can be fun, but also overwhelming!

My best advice for you is to enjoy the moments, but when it comes time to compete, remember to say focused on what you’ve come to do. Also, if you’re feeling nervous or scared, don’t worry that there is anything wrong with you. Every athlete is nervous before they compete. Yes, even Olympians. Being nervous and scared is a normal part of competing. The people that tend to handle the pressure best in big moments are the ones that acknowledge the nerves and fears that exist, and don’t deny or try to fight them.

Finally, remember to keep dreaming big and working hard. The skills that have brought you to this point are universal and stretch far beyond sports. You’re already on your way to leading a successful life, and if you apply the same principles that have brought you to this point in sports to all of your endeavors, you’ll find success in whatever other passions you choose to pursue.

Congratulations and good luck!
Tim Morehouse

Swimmer Tyler Clary poses for a portrait during the NBC Olympics/U.S. Olympic Committee promotional shoot on Nov. 19, 2011 in West Hollywood, California.
Tyler Clary (swimming, 2012 Olympic gold medalist)

Dear Youth Olympians,

Good luck to all of Team USA competing at the Youth Olympic Games! Even though you are there to compete and represent the USA, don't forget to enjoy yourself and embrace all that you have already accomplished. Remember to have fun, because happy athletes are the most successful athletes. Enjoy all of the little emotions that high-level competition will bring to you, and don't get caught up in the preparation for your performance. Always remember this: You've come this far and have made all of the necessary preparations for this moment, nothing you can do now will help you get better than you already are, so let your mind take a back seat to what you have been training your body to do all year and enjoy the ride!

Tyler Clary

Georganne Moline (track & field - 400-meter hurdles, 2012 Olympian)

Dear Youth Olympians,

Congratulations, and welcome to Team USA! I can only imagine the many emotions you are feeling going into the Games. As I approached my first Olympic Games, I felt excited, nervous and panicked all at the same time because I didn't know what to expect. When entering the village, I quickly found myself making friends from all over the world! However, the people I met representing Team USA became family rather than friends. When we all marched in the Opening Ceremony, it created a bond I cannot explain. We weren't just out there representing our country; we were representing our friends and family who supported us, our hometown which raised us, and our coaches who believed in us. In that moment we all had something in common. Enjoy every moment of this experience, introduce yourself and talk to as many fellow athletes/staff as you can, take as many pictures as your phone or camera can hold, and focus on the task at hand. Remember that it was YOU who put in the hard work to get to where you are. Only vision ACHIEVING the goal you set for yourself. There is no limit to what you can do. Take a second to pat yourself on the back and be proud of how far you have come. You have accomplished more than what only some can dream of. Be patient with the process because this is only the beginning of your greatness. Good luck and go for the GOLD!

Wishing you the best,
Georganne Moline

Brigetta Barrett (track & field - high jump, 2012 Olympic silver medalist)

What is greatness but a desire to discover our complete potential? What is greatness but a desire to know exactly who we are? What is greatness but a desire to BE somebody, something unforgettable? Because deep down inside we all are afraid of death. And greatness provides what seems like immortality. Shakespeare would have been dead almost 400 years now if it had not been for his writings, his greatness.

Let us truly define greatness.

By definition, the word brings about two meanings:
1. unusual largeness in size or extent or number
2. the property possessed by something or someone of outstanding importance or eminence

In short, both of these definitions attempt to quantify or examine the amount or importance of something that is already there. Because the fact of the matter is God, the creator of heaven and Earth, has planted greatness inside of you the very moment that He thought you into existence. And this same God, who would die on the cross for our sins created you fearfully and wonderfully. Many times we desire greatness to validate our very existence. We think it will give us a reason for being here or make our existence meaningful. Truth be told every time you exhale you give life to the plants and trees around you. You give life to your family and friends. And as you prepare to compete on the biggest stage of your athletic existence, you will give life to countless kids and the hopes and dreams living inside of them.

Our quests for greatness often redeem themselves on the battlefield of a championship game. But I dare you to find it in a mirror. Look deep into the center of those pupils and find out who you really are. After all it is only you who can. Find the greatness that already lie hidden inside of you and let it shine. Whatever the field may look like, a track, a stage, a court, you are the main event that everyone is waiting to see. It’s almost time for the lights to come on and the stage has been set. So ask yourself… Are you ready to be great? Because we are most definitely ready to watch!

I would say good luck out there, but luck is an insult to hard work. Luck had nothing to do with those hours you put in at the gym. Nothing to do with that injury you had to deal with, nothing to do with the skip your heartbeat makes every time you look into the mirror and remember what greatness looks like. It’s already there… can you see it?

I CAN :)

Congratulations and Kick Butt Out There!

Sincerely,
Brigetta Barrett


Gymnast Aly Raisman poses for a portrait during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 14, 2012 in Dallas.

Aly Raisman (gymnastics, three-time Olympic medalist)

Dear athletes,

Congratulations on qualifying to the Youth Olympic Games. I'm sure for those competing the fact that your dreams are coming true and you are representing the United States of America has not sunken in at all. Believe me, it never will! It is an experience you will never forget. The memories that are most fond to me aren't the ones that involve standing on the podium. While those were incredible, nothing compares to the moment right before you march out to compete. The emotions that ran through my body gave me chills, knowing that I had achieved my life long dream. I'll never forget the moment I put on my Olympic leotard for the first time. Representing my country was such an honor. It made me feel so proud that all my hard work had paid off. I hope each and every one of you has memories that make you cry of happiness, smile with joy and look back with not a single regret. You have worked so hard to get to this moment. Cherish it all, believe in yourself, and remember you were picked to represent the most incredible country in the world. You have earned a fabulous competition and experience. I wish you all the best of luck.

Go Team USA,
Aly Raisman

Comments


Related Articles


More Stories ›