Meryl Davis is an iconic figure skater whose resume includes a 2014 Olympic gold medal in ice dance – the first ever for Team USA – a 2010 Olympic silver in ice dance and 2014 Olympic bronze in the team event. She and partner Charlie White also won two world titles, two world silver medals, five Grand Prix Final medals and six U.S. titles.
It’s difficult to believe that the 2018 Olympic Winter Games came and went so quickly. As athletes, as fans or as spectators, the Games represent hope, dedication in its highest form, the pursuit of excellence and, of course, the timeless and extraordinary resilience of the human spirit. On the topic of resilience, please note that the 2018 Paralympic Winter Games begin on March 9th. If you’re experiencing the post-Olympic blues (who isn’t?) and feel the need for some inspiration…look no further. In fact, the Paralympians I’ve met have been some of the strongest and most inspiring people I’ve known. No question. These athletes, their stories and their strengths are sure to leave you breathless and inspired.
Still, from one Olympic Games to the next, nothing and no one is perfect. In PyeongChang, we witnessed some moments of glory and some moments of defeat. Often though, it’s the moments of courage and bravery that leave the longest lasting impressions. There’s nothing like a “pick yourself up” moment (Nathan Chen, anyone?) to leave us feeling motivated. On the ice, on the slopes or in life, things rarely go as planned.
In a brief note to my fellow Team USA athletes, I’ve included some of my thoughts on life after the Games:
Dear Fellow Athletes of Team USA,
Congratulations, you’ve returned home from a whirlwind adventure in PyeongChang. Some of you may be returning home with medals while others are already eager for another shot at the podium in four years time. Perhaps these moments on the Olympic stage in South Korea were the last of your long, competitive career as an athlete, or perhaps these Games represented the start of your life as an Olympian. No matter your direction after these Games, please remember that you are ready and you are not alone.
The Olympic Games are a place of dreams. For so many of us, the journey to get there is lengthy and difficult, yet we wouldn’t have it any other way. The days spent training and feelings of exhaustion and fatigue are when we’re most comfortable. We are Olympians and thrive on hard work, overcoming obstacles and living deep in the pursuit of our goals.
Perhaps you already have another dream in mind and are excitedly planning the steps you’ll take to get there. It’s also possible, of course, that you have no idea what life holds for you after today and that’s okay.
Indeed, since we were children, we’ve had coaches, teammates and a family of supporters behind us. While it is we who take the field and cross finish lines, there’s been someone there to celebrate with us, cheer us on or cheer us up every step of the way. Life, unfortunately, is not always like that.
As we move forward, it’s important to remember how we got here. As athletes, we’ve had the privilege of guidance and support but the lessons we’ve learned in our training will remain with us long after our days as competitive athletes are over. You are strong and resilient. On the ice, the snow, in the classroom or even in the boardroom, your determination and willingness to push beyond the setbacks will continue to serve you, and those around you, well.
I hope this next chapter of your lives continues to be rewarding, inspiring and fulfilling. I hope that you find a thrill in freedom, wherever that may be, and that you find joy in your possibilities and in your fresh pursuits. I hope you face disappointments with the knowledge that you already have the necessary strength and courage to persevere. You’ve spent your lives preparing for not just a moment at the Games, but to be the fastest, strongest and brightest versions of yourselves. And you are.
Dear friends, please remember that life isn’t always perfect. In life, as in sport, success often takes more than one try. Indeed, it is in picking one’s self back up again and again that we find the ability to triumph. It is in our constant growth and betterment that we find the motivation to press on. It is in our careers and lives as Olympians that we’ve learned the knowledge and gained the skills necessary to live the lives of our dreams; on the field of play and off.