I have a new hero. This morning, I watched Australian athlete, Sally Pearson, take out the gold medal in the 100m Hurdles at the London Olympics. It was awesome!
Sally Pearson is my kind of athlete. She shares my weakness for the mighty Tim Tam but obviously doesn’t let a packet of so of the things get in the way of her Olympic dream. I bet she can even stop at one. I can too, you know!
Not being into sport, I haven’t watched much of the Olympics. Moreover, I usually cringe at the thought of sporting heroes. Just because someone is good at sport, it doesn’t mean they have integrity, character or the sort of values that should denote a hero. However, I’m open-minded. Being a sports person shouldn’t disqualify them either.
I had no intention of getting into the Olympics. I loved Sydney 2000, attended a few events and even had my photo taken with the Olympic torch. Like everybody else, I was also running around everywhere chanting: “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!” like a complete lunatic but that was then and this is now. The Olympics are over there…in London…literally on the other side of the world. But you know what it’s like when you have kids. You get drawn into things. My daughter’s class was following Sally’s Olympic journey and I was sort of pulled into the slip stream. So in between painting the Olympic rings and the Olympic torch, the kids and I started jumping to attention every time Sally Pearson’s name was mentioned on TV.
To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t really heard of Sally Pearson before the Olympics but what I started out as an educational experience for my daughter, has became a motivating and insightful moment for myself.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m having a bit of a rough time fighting my auto-immune disease at the moment. I dodged a bullet on Monday when even my specialist thought he was going to be admitting me. I’d even taken my pyjamas and toothbrush with me (haven’t done that before) but went home a free woman instead.
I am still on 50mg a day of prednisone and that is unsustainable but survivable short term. It’s a bit of a roller coaster ride emotionally speaking but creatively, I’m on fire doing some amazing stuff. Being a creative soul, I could almost say it’s been worth it but the stress has been phenomenal and it’s been really hard on our family. That kind of stress is to be avoided literally at all costs!
I have also picked up a nasty viral infection and I’m coughing my lungs out all night. Every night, I am hovering on the edge of calling the ambulance but somehow manage to make it through the night.
So you can see how I might be needing a hero at the moment!
Sally Pearson inspires me for a number of reasons.
Firstly, I like somebody who can jump over hurdles at great speed and win. After all, jumping hurdles takes guts. I remember doing hurdles at school and feeling rather defeated before I even got started. Those hurdles looked huge, enormous. It was like trying to jump over a tower. I know I baulked at them. Moreover, I’m sure I thought I was going kill myself if I actually hit the hurdle. I’ve always been a drama queen.
When it comes to jumping life’s hurdles, I’m not always quick off the mark either. Just do it, Ro! Get on with it. The more you procrastinate, the worse it gets! The more you gaze at the mountain, the higher it gets. We all know that but it’s another thing to actually do it.
Sally Pearson conquered the hurdles at speed, seemingly without a second thought. However, I’m sure her brain was processing things at a thousand miles an hour. Even a gold medal athlete doesn’t conquer hurdles without a lot of mental and physical processing! She just made it look so easy!!
Secondly, Sally Pearson won gold in the rain. If you live in a country where it rains or drizzles a lot that might not mean much to you but around these parts, things come to a grinding halt when it rains. My Mum was allowed to stay home from school when it rained when she was a kid. Sally won in the rain. She didn’t let it get her down. She didn’t stop. She got out there and she won gold…the ultimate reward.
I can do it too. Don’t let the rain stand between me and my dreams. Get on with it!!
Thirdly, Sally won by .02 of a second. Initially, I thought about that being an insight into how you need that competitive edge to win. It was such a tight, tight margin. Then, I saw another way of looking at it. You only need to be a very small step ahead of your adversary. I have always seen my auto-immune disease as a separate entity code-named “Dermie” and when things get bad, he’s like a malevolent creeping, lurking shadow… a stalker. It’s never been part of me or who I am as a person.
Now, I only need to be .02 of a second ahead of Dermie to win! That sounds so much more achievable. I can do it but I know I’m in for the long haul and I will need to have the commitment, dedication and focus of a gold medal athlete to win the race. There is no room for complacency, defeat or turning my back on my foe. I need to fight for my life before my life depends on it! We all face this fight. It isn’t a glamorous journey. There will be no gold medal accolades but I just want to see my kids grow up and to be well enough to enjoy it. I also want my husband to have his wife and my parents to have their daughter. That seems like such a small request and it is I hope, quite achievable but it will be a fight.
As I said, this is a battle we are all waging. The distinction is that I am conscious of my battle. Most of us are quite oblivious. I know I was.
Sally was also competing under incredible pressure with the entire world watching her…so many fans willing her to win but there are always those wanting to see the tall poppy fall. She won gold under all that pressure and she didn’t crumple. She won gold…not just for jumping those physical hurdles but all those mental, metaphorical hurdles as well.
I have just watched an inspirational interview with Sally Pearson. I really felt I was running the race inside her head, inside her heart. Seeing things how she saw them. It was so amazing and such an encouragement now that I’ve decided to take inspiration from her success. There were a few quotes I liked: “Nothing hurts at the moment. I’m walking on a cloud”, “they almost got me but they didn’t”. “You have to push yourself to limits.” “All I could see was the yellow of Australia”, “You’ve done this a hundred times before. Get out there and do your thing.”
I’ve also Googled Sally and found an insightful interview. Sally hasn’t had the easy life and has fought against adversity. She’s been independent and has always been a fighter. That was very encouraging too. That ironically adversity can fuel your success, instead of just bringing you down. It reminds me of a quote by Australian photography sensation Ken Duncan which I stuck on my whiteboard last week:
Stumbling blocks are stepping stones to victory.
You can read the interview here:
So congratulations Sally Pearson. You’ve won a gold medal on and off the track. You’re simply the best!…along with Olympic cyclist Anna Meares.
Anna’s story is also inspirational but that’s someone else’s story to tell. Suffice to say that Anna Meares made an astonishing come back from a very bad cycling accident at the World Cup in January 2008 when she broke her neck. It is just amazing to think that you can break your neck and then go on to win Olympic gold. Another incredible inspiration!
I hope these stories encourage you to jump your hurdles whatever they might be. They’ve certainly inspired me!