The Olympics were not all about winning

Wait, what?! Yes, you read that headline correctly.

Trust me, if I read this headline a few years ago I would have thought the author was full of it. I’ve competed in championship games and the furthest thing from my mind was “winning isn’t everything.” That’s B.S.

Well, let me tell you why when it comes to the Olympic Games, it is not all about winning. It’s about something much bigger than gold, silver, and bronze.

Getting to the top of your game takes more than hard work. You must be willing to sacrifice and take risks. You must be willing to be vulnerable and rely on the support of others. You must be a relentless optimist in the face of adversity. Yet also recognize that at the end of your four year journey you may not reach the medals stand.

Before the Games got underway, I recommended you follow five US women. I want to elaborate on their stories and how they embodied the true intent and meaning of the Games.

These athletes can be described as best, baddest, and the first.

The best…

Jamie Anderson, Snowboarding. She defended her gold in the slopestyle and took the silver medal in the inaugural women’s big air competition; which consists of a single trick! “I could have cried seeing my dad and mom and all my siblings, and family and friends being so happy,” Anderson said. “You know, that’s what it’s all about. I don’t think we can do anything without the support of each other… [They] help me to be my best self.” While most athletes, like Jamie, compete in solo events during the Winter Games; she articulated how important it is that these journeys are not taken alone.

Meghan Duggan, USA Women’s Hockey Team. Duggan and her teammates dedicated decades of their life to bringing Olympic gold back home to the USA. This team united to take a big risk prior to the Games. They threaten to boycott the World Championships. They were seeking equal pay; and they were successful. In the final, after a thrilling penalty-shootout the US team won gold! Duggan said, “We’re just so excited to get home and share this experience with everyone. Let little kids put the medal on; let everyone take pictures.” The triumph of this women’s hockey team will have a long lasting legacy, beyond the ice.

The baddest…

Mikaela Shiffrin, Alpine Skiing. She won the women’s giant slalom and came in second in the Alpine combined. Prior to the Games, Mikaela articulated the relentless optimism it takes to compete at this elite level; “I have no idea how I’m gonna feel on race day. I only know that right now, I’m happy, I’m skiing fast, and I’m having fun.” Only two US skiers from the PyeongChang Games earned medals and they were both women. Mikaela earned gold and silver; and Lindsey Vonn earned a bronze.

The first…

Becca Hamilton (and Matt Hamilton), Curling. Becca competed on the women’s team and for the first time at the Games, mixed doubles. It can be vulnerable to rely upon another person, the Hamilton siblings know this well. “We knew we had to trust each other more, we’ve come a long way,” said Matt. While Becca did not reach the podium, she competed in an inaugural event at the Games and her training partner, her brother Matt brought home the gold.

Maame Biney, Short Track Speedskating. The 18 year old was the first African American woman from the US to compete in short track speedskating. She competed in her first Olympics, but did not reach the podium. She said, “I like to make other people happy and I think I’ve accomplished that.” Maame is already looking forward to competing in future Games.

The bigger picture…

The Olympic Winter Games united the world’s best 3,000 athletes to compete for just over 200 medals. These athletes represent 92 countries, some of which do not have natural snow or ice. Most of the athletes competing did not make the medals stand. The Games are about excellence; inspiring hope, promoting equality and unity, because sports are a powerful vessel. The Games provide a platform to inspire the next generation of athletes with examples of strength, resilience, and passion to dream the biggest dreams. Explore more stories on the Olympics official site.


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