“Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice, and is never the result of selfishness.” – Napoleon Hill
I have found myself getting pretty involved in the Winter Olympics. Since it is happening in Russia, I will have it on live as I am getting ready for work in the morning, check the results throughout the morning, and even catch up on the edited prime time showing in the evening. I love the sense of pride that each person has for their country and their event along with the chance to see some of the lesser appreciated sports get an opportunity for the limelight.
Imagine the amount of pressure that comes with being an Olympic athlete. Whether Summer or Winter Olympics, the culmination of your shining moment is four years in the making. You have your qualifying, the national championships, and the world championships, but the pinnacle of your sport occurs once every four years. You sweat, you push, you train, you grind year after year after year after year for that one run, that one routine, that one heat (likely only a few minutes in length) that defines your legacy in your sport.
Tonight, I watched the Men’s snowboard cross. This event in and of itself is a battle. Six snowboarders come out of the chute down the hill through various jumps, hills, and turns. The top three in each event qualify for the next round. Sometimes only three may make it to the bottom due to crashes and falls (which may take out other riders who had their hopes set on a medal).
As I was watching the semi-final run, a crash left two Americans fighting for the final spot in the finals as they made the final turn and made the last jump. Trevor Jacob, who was in 3rd, did not land his final jump cleanly and slid toward the finish line. Alex Diebold, in 4th, landed only slightly more cleanly, got turned sideways, and also slid to the finish. By the thinnest of margins (basically the edge of the snowboard), Diebold finished 3rd and qualified for the finals. Jacob had to settle for the classification races, which define positions 7-12. He finished 9th overall, but ran his final two runs on what he described as torn ligaments in his ankle (likely from his fall in the semis).
Diebold went on to earn a bronze medal, which is a great achievement in and of itself, yet this is just where the story begins to get good. As he crossed the line and slid to his stop, he was mobbed by his teammates, who were equally as elated as Diebold. Among them was Trevor Jacob whose medal hopes were dashed by Diebold in the semis. In a pure act of unselfishness, Jacob put any disappointments aside and cheered for his teammate.
As if that was not enough, Diebold, age 27, was making his Olympics debut. In the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Diebold was in attendance, not as a participant, but as a wax tech, who basically prepped the snowboards for the very teammates that were mobbing him as he crossed the finish line as an Olympic bronze medalist.
Sometimes achieving great moments requires great sacrifice. It requires doing whatever it takes to put ourselves in a position to succeed. It requires hard work, commitment, and dedication. It requires being selfless not selfish.
Tonight was a great moment for both Diebold and Jacob. Jacob’s achievement came through selflessness and sacrifice of his own self to celebrate his teammate. Diebold’s moment came not solely from his bronze medal, but from the sacrifices he made for his teammates in 2010 yet never giving up on his dreams.
While only one American will stand on the podium for men’s snowboard cross, the United States had two winners tonight from whom we could all stand to learn a few lessons.
Bring your best today!