This post goes out to all the athletes who fall under the same category as me – the ones who spent countless hours working their hearts out to qualify for the Olympic Games, but ended up missing the games.
You guys have also dedicated your lives for the sport, and did your very best to be an Olympian, so please do not see any less of yourselves. Keep your head up and DON’T GIVE UP!!! Because Tokyo 2020 is just around the corner. 🙂
Having made the B qualification mark for the Olympics, I ended up failing to qualify for the Olympic Games due to the 900 swimmer limit that the IOC has, and I’m sure that many of you swimmers faced the same issue as well.
I’m honestly pretty sad that I’ve failed to make it to the 2016 Olympics, but there is no excuse for not making the Olympics besides not being better than I wanted myself to be.
I actually contemplated on retirement a little – I missed the most prestigious competition that any swimmer can ever aim for, and in 4 years time, I may be too old for Tokyo.
However, I managed to shrug those negative thoughts away from me, which is why I want to share this post with you today. If you are having the same thoughts, please read on and don’t give up just yet.
Watching this years Olympics really reignited the burning fire I had inside of me, and I’m glad to say that right now I’m back up on my feet and training hard towards the next Olympic Games!
In particular, 2 swimmers have inspired me and kept this dream alive – Anthony Ervin and Michael Phelps.
In the Men’s 50m Freestyle, the favorites going in were Florent Manaudou and Nathan Adrian. Ervin retired from the sport for about 8 years before his passion for the sport came back again, and had some pretty bad swims which lead to many doubters. I remember watching the race and my friend and I wanted Ervin to win, because we knew his story, and he’s been through a lot of tough times – from attempting suicide from overdosing tranquilizers to riding at dangerously high speeds on motorcycles when high on cocaine. Realizing he failed to kill himself, he felt like God had reborn-ed him, in a way. Age was also a factor when it came to this competition – Most swimmers in the finals were at their mid 20s while Ervin was 35, so he was definitely not the favorite coming into this race.
Ervin ended up winning the race with a 21.40 seconds, just 0.01s ahead of the favorite Florent Manadou. And you can roughly picture how much my friend and I were screaming with excitement seeing a “1” sign beside Anthony Ervin’s name.
“It’s what you do in the dark that puts you in the light.”
I always thought that Phelps was living the life with 22 Olympic Medal tally (28 after this year’s Olympics). Many of us didn’t know that he almost ended his life! He had no self-esteem and self worth which almost made him end his life. But he bounced back to win another 5 Gold medals and 1 Silver medal in this Olympic Games. How awesome is that?
Honestly, who would have thought both of them would return to the sport at this age in their career? They both had something in common – the burning passion and drive for swimming, and the unfinished goals which they want to achieve in the sport. If either of them had retired earlier, we wouldn’t have experienced such an amazing feat at this Olympic Games.
For them to overcome such great obstacles just proves that nothing can stop you from achieving your goals – all you have to do is to believe in yourself. If they overcame the greatest obstacles in their lives, then we can too!
Overall, their experiences have made me believe that as long as we set our mind up towards our goal and chase them wholeheartedly, age is merely just a number. There’s really nothing that can stop us from achieving our goals, except the person in the mirror. So cut the negativity, and start believing!
I’ve got my eye on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and I’ve already started training for it. There’s so much more motivation now as I know that deep down, my Olympic dream is still alive.
Think about it, 4 more years of hard training is merely 5% of my entire life time (that’s if I survive up to 80, of course), so it will definitely pay off when I look back at my swimming career, knowing that I’ve made it to the biggest milestone of swimming.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you all for the constant support through my swimming journey. Those really encouraging messages you’ve sent, knowing that I’m upset that I failed to make the Olympics this time around; that really spurred me on to continue pursuing my dreams. I may not have the time to reply all each and everyone of you, but please know that I’ve seen all of them and I’m really grateful for all your unwavering support! I sincerely hope that you too will be able to achieve what you set yourself out for one day, and if you do, let me know as well. 🙂
In 4 years time, I will only be 28 years old, which is 3 years younger than Phelps’s current age and 7 years younger than Ervin’s current age, so there is really no excuse for me to retire just yet.
For those who are aspiring athletes who didn’t make it to Rio this time around, do continue your quest for the Olympic dream and don’t give up! The dream is never over unless we stop trying.
And if you ever think of giving up, just remember why you started your sporting career in the first place.
All in all, I hope this post inspires the aspiring Olympians to not give up and continue chasing that Olympic dream with me. We’re in this together, so onward Tokyo 2020!
Hopefully when I look back at this post at year 2020, I can gladly say that I’ve made it. 🙂
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