Sunday, February 14, 2010

Why I am not in the Olympics

...apart than the fact that I lack physical talent, that is!

I, like much of the rest of the world, have been glued to my television watching the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.  One of my favorites is Apolo Ohno.  I have seen video and interviews and noted his incredible dedication to his sport and his goals.  He endures workouts that would kill a lesser man.  He asks himself each day if he has done everything (excuse my paraphrase, which may be slightly off) he possibly could to improve, to reach his goal?

It gave me pause to consider whether I could be an Olympic athlete in my sport.  Given the sacrifices these athletes make, I have to admit I could not.  I would not be willing to go to the lengths many of them do to accomplish their dream.

A married couple who are skating in Pairs, representing China, are in their mid-thirties and returned to dorm life and cafeteria meals to train for another Olympic contest.

A woman from Japan gave up her citizenship to move to Russia where she could compete in Pairs Skating.

When severely injured, these Olympic competitors work with every fiber of their being to regain their health and strength... so that they can compete again.  And what about the para-olympics?  Do I dare complain about being stiff and sore, when they rise from this adversity?

Apolo Ohno endures 12 hour days of training, and often four 2-hour work outs.  Many competitors move to where the best coaches and training opportunities exist.

I know of dog sport competitors who have followed trainers across the country, and moved for better training and competitive opportunties.  Still others spend many hours conditioning and training their dogs. I have to ask myself what I am willing to do to achieve my goals?  I have already established what I am willing-- and UNwilling-- to do to my canine partner to stand on a podium.  "The podium at any cost" is not my mantra.

But at what am I willing to charge to myself?  I will not move to follow a trainer.  I am not willing to give up my home, my family and friends for the sake of a sport.  I am also not willing to mortgage my home  pay to attend seminars or bring trainers in.  This may be due to my age, but I realize that my dogs will pass away and I will still need a place to live.  My husband is my partner with dogs, and would never ask me to give them up but he is more important to me than competition.  If he needed me to be with him, or asked that I not attend an event, I would honor that.  Oh sure, I might throw a hissy fit, but in the end he is more important to me.

Then there are things that I could do, and would be willing to do, but do not.  I should spend more time conditioning both myself and my dogs.  We both need to be athletes at a level that keeps us injury free and able to compete.  I could spend more time studying; I could watch the videotapes of successful competitors, those I wish to emulate, and try to adopt some of those methods if they apply.  I could spend more consistent, structured time in training.  I tend to work in waves, where I concentrate on a goal and then completely withdraw after that competition, resting both mind and body. 

I will likely never be a millionaire as a result of my dog sport involvement, unless there is suddenly a tremendous market for "before" videos.  "Dancing with the Stars" will never invite me to participate after I win an Olympic gold medal, star in a blockbuster movie or invent a new computer app. I can, however, aspire to win.  I can make a promise this year to train more consistently, to study what I need to know, and to work to get both myself and my dogs in better condition so that we can do our best.  Can I say each day that I have done my best?

I can do better.