Dai Greene gave an awesome Team Captain’s speech last night here in Portugal as we lie in wait in the ‘calm before the storm’ that is the London Olympic Games. The theme - continued from Head Coach, Charles Van Commonee’s inspiring talk, was the ‘journey’. The Journey we have all been on. And the destination that is now just days away. Both Dai and Charles spoke of the difficulty of the Journey. The difficult decisions that had to be made a long the way. And that it is the difficulty of these decisions that make the journey worthwhile. An easy Journey gives no sense of fulfillment. One cannot call an easy Journey a success. A hard road, though - one covered in bumps, bruises, and barricades. With a successful navigation. Now THAT Journey is a success. One that is worthwhile. One that you can be proud of.
Charles mentioned the courage required by athletes to make changes. Perhaps to leave long-time coaches. Move cities. Or countries. It takes a lot of courage to make a change. Even when you know you have to make one. Even when you know what change you have to make.
It's the reason many athletes hit mid-career plateaus - a tight grasping to what has worked. To what did work. The proverbial security blanket, not allowing the requisite exploration of ideas that will produce further improvement and success. But to make a change - to do something different - requires courage, acceptance that the status quo is not working, and a willingness to take a chance on something new.
How often do athletes stall at this critical stage of their development? How often is this the time where we begin to see little niggles begin to creep into their bodies, problems with motivation, and eventual decline?
What is it that stops us from making the change? Another concept that has spawned an industry, and one that will continue to haunt us our entire lives.
One of my former athletes is an excellent example of this. A once promising track and field career had ended in disappointment. He had not fulfilled his potential. His Journey was a failure. Even though it was full of bumps. Of bruises. and of barricades. It was not successfully navigated. So something had to be done. A change had to be made.
Former decathlete, World Champion, Olympic Champion, and the most successful bobsledder in the history of the United States, Steve Mesler made two decisions that impacted the rest of his sporting career. And continues to impact his post-sporting career today.
I am proud to have shared the difficult journey with him. I am proud to have coached him for almost ten years. I am proud to now call him a friend. And I am proud of the work he is now doing. Even more so than the work he put in during those ten years.
Watch this video. It’s awesome.