It was impossible to keep my heart from breaking yesterday morning. I woke up before the sun to catch the women’s Olympic triathlon live and as I watched Paula Findlay’s race crumble beneath her, my heart simply ached. Paula is like the Taylor Swift of triathlon – her young innocence and seemingly overnight success have gathered her a fan base that is nothing short of overwhelming. When Paula crossed the line in last place yesterday, she wasn’t thinking about herself. Mouthing “I’m sorry” over and over as she fought back tears, she was thinking about her fans. About her country. About everyone who believes in her.
Now let’s make a few things clear. I have no idea what it is like to be in the Olympics. I have no idea what it must be like to have your country wearing your name on their shirts (Though I do think ‘Godesky Fever’ doesn’t have the same ring…so when my time comes we’ll have to brainstorm). But I have learned a lot in the past few years as I have turned a corner in my own athletic endeavors. And one of the biggest lessons I have learned is that just because everyone loves Taylor Swift doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a little Kanye in you too.
So, what does that even mean? It means: brush your shoulders off! Haha, okay, that is pretty much the extent of my rapper euphemisms, so don’t worry.
One of the greatest things about the Olympics for me is watching all of the young, bright, shining naive faces of the first-time Olympians. But the other greatest thing is watching the old schoolers – Misty May and Kerri Walsh, Laura Bennett, Hunter Kemper, Dara Torres – the list goes on and on. This isn’t saying that there weren’t moments in their Olympic careers where it felt like the weight of the world was on their shoulders. And that’s not to say that they don’t feel that is so even today – but they don’t show it. They have a maturity that speaks volumes. They have a swagger . They have that Kanye.
People have been quick to criticize Paula’s coaches. They judge how her coaches have dealt with her injuries and training and that’s the reason that she showed up to the Olympics with legs that weren’t all there. But to be honest – I’m moreso hoping that Paula’s coaches pay attention to the fact that this poor 23 year old girl is carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. More than bike rides, swim sets and running miles, that girl needs a hug. She needs the reassurance that win or lose, she’s got us behind her. Paula, I am not alone in saying that I could care less that you were last place. I have loved watching you compete in the past few years, and I love watching you win…..but more than that, I know that your successes have come from hours and hours of work. And THAT’S what I care about.
I’ve learned that in sport it’s great to have some Taylor Swift in you. But there’s also times to have a little Kanye. Here’s to hoping you find that balance, Paula. Take some time to just do you. We’ll be fine, I promise. And in 4 years, I’ll be rooting for you. #Rio2016