COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- One hundred and twenty-four years after the modern Olympic Movement began, the U.S. Olympic Training Center is brimming with Olympic spirit.
On June 23, 1894, Pierre de Coubertin’s dream of reviving the ancient Olympic Games became a reality. Twelve nations came together and unanimously approved his idea, and the first modern Olympic Games began two years later in Athens, Greece.
The International Olympic Committee decided to commemorate the historic moment by observing the first Olympic Day in 1948. Now, 70 years later, millions of people from around the world mark June 23 as a day to celebrate not only sport, but also the Olympic Day pillars of move, learn and discover.
And what better place for Americans to celebrate those ideals than Olympic City, USA?
Colorado Springs is truly Olympic City, USA – home to the headquarters of the United States Olympic Committee and 23 sport governing bodies, and a soon-to-open United States Olympic Museum. Perhaps most impressive, the town also boasts one of two U.S. Olympic Training Centers, where Olympic and Paralympic dreams become reality.
But on Saturday, elite athletes weren’t the only ones enjoying the training center and celebrating the Olympic Movement. With Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers lighting the Olympic cauldron, the training center opened its doors to the public, providing free tours, sport demonstrations and meet-and-greets with Team USA athletes.
Chris Fogt, a three-time Olympic bobsledder, was there to show kids his bronze medal from the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014 and teach them the importance of pursuing their ambitions.
“When I was a young kid, I never dreamed I would get to this point, but seeing people come before me, hearing their stories and watching the Games every two years was an amazing experience and helped inspire me to get to where I am now,” Fogt reflected. “Olympic Day is always a huge honor to be a part of and helps inspire kids across the entire country.”
People from across Colorado came to the training center to celebrate the day, including Girl Scout Troop 1359. Clutching autographs from 2018 Olympic silver medalist bobsledder Lauren Gibbs, the troop members explored the campus and learned about modern pentathlon, gymnastics and even sitting volleyball. The goal, said troop leader Marcia Roe, was to encourage the girls to stay active and get them interested in the bigger picture of the movement.
After all, while athletes may be competing for medals, the Olympic and Paralympic movements go beyond sport. As Mayor Suthers proclaimed, “the Olympic Movement has built a more peaceful and better world by educating young people through amateur athletics, by bringing together athletes from many countries in friendly competition, and by forging new relationships bound by friendship, solidarity and fair play.”
The lessons learned from sport can help people succeed in life as well – including the girls in Troop 1359. When asked what the day had taught them so far, they laughed about their clumsiness playing sitting volleyball, but quickly turned pensive.
“Try your best all the time – even if it’s really hard or you’re injured. You want to make sure you’re able to get past it and any other obstacles you might face,” said Willow Wilson. “If you have a second chance, make your second chance even better than your first.”
While the Olympics may only happen every two years, Olympic Day serves as a reminder that one doesn’t have to be an Olympian in order to stay active and move, learn and discover. Everyone gets a second chance to do so, every day.
And as Wilson would say – make that second chance a good one.