Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I know that many of you, like me, are following the Olympic games. It's amazing to sit and watch athletes do what they do best. Compete. Now, for those of you who don't follow swimming the way I do (with a sizeable vengance) you may not know all the stories that go along with this particular Olympic team. There is one story in particular that stands alone. Not Michael Phelps quest for Spitz's record, not Coughlin or Piersol's repeat, not the relay that should never have been. There is one story that is such an inspiration, I have to post it here.
Although we CrossFitters are not Olympians, we are athletes. We have goals, we have successes, we have injuries, we have failures, we have good days, we have bad days, and we have days where we just don't want to see the inside of a gym. But, regardless, we are capable of doing what we want to and love to do. Although at times it may be harder than others, our bodies allow us to do what we want to do. Now, imagine that you have trained for 4 years. Imagine that you have pushed as hard and as far as you can. You've FINALLY met your ultimate goal and made the Olympic team. Now imagine that all of a sudden, something changes. You may not be able to do what you love. You may not be able to persue your dreams and goals. Just weeks before the Olympic Trials that is exactly what happened to Eric Shanteau.
After noticing something wasn't right and going to see the doctor, Shanteau discovered at the age of 24 that he had testicular cancer. Four years ago, Shanteau just missed making the team for Athens. He had come so far from four years before, only to have this dropped in his lap. But yet, rather than bemoan the fact that something so tragic had happened, he kept quiet, and asked the doctors to clear him to swim in the trials. He did, and all his hard work paid off as he made the Olympic team. Shanteau's doctors recommended surgery. He recommended they take a hike. He wanted the opportunity to swim. He had them clear him to go to Beijing. As I've read, he has had to consent to weekly testing of his blood levels but so long as they remain high, he will be allowed to compete.
Here is a kid (he's younger than me for Pete's sake, I can say that...) who is faced with something that would scare adults twice his age. Here is someone who has been dealt a hand that few would ever be able to manage. But instead of crying and giving in, he said not me. He is not allowing it to win. He is continuing to train, and to work towards his dreams and goals, all the while knowing what is looming in his future. He has found the ultimate ability and will to persevere. His return to the states will undoubtably bring surgery and treatment. But for now, it doesn't matter. He is going to do what he set out to do. Eric's story is an inspiration to athletes everywhere. No matter how small they may be, never give up on your goals. When things seem at their darkest, when giving up and giving in seem like an option, think of him. He didn't give up, and he didn't give in. Neither should you.