The world is getting ready for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Are you? It’s tough not to be thrilled by the exhilaration and pageantry of the Games. However, my excitement got amped up with a recent visit by four Olympic legends to support Boys & Girls Club members.
On Saturday, July 14, Evander Holyfield, Dominique Dawes, Gail Devers and Jackie Joyner-Kersee helped more than 200 young people learn how to jab, tumble, sprint and hurdle during our recent Triple Play Summer Games sponsored by The Coca Cola Company and the WellPoint Foundation. What a legendary roster of Olympians! During the course of the day, I thought about what it took for each to reach the pinnacle of their sport. Near the end of the event, I wondered who among the young people attending that day might be inspired to become the next Olympian.
The Olympic Games are a perfect opportunity to get young people excited and motivated about their interest in sports and recreation. It’s a golden opportunity since the Games only happen once every four years. Encourage your young people to dream big and work hard by sharing stories of inspirational Olympians. I was motivated by merely the sight of our visitors.
The Champ, Evander Holyfield, teaches boxing techniques and life lessons to Boys & Girls Club members on Saturday, July 14.
Just prior to the event, the Champ walked through the door looking like a Greek God. I was expecting a behemoth of a man. Instead, the Real Deal appeared clad in a tank top, muscles glistening with a sleek appearance and I thought “He’s not that much bigger than I am … except his muscles are bigger … he doesn’t have any body fat … and he has a 31 inch waist.” I immediately thought I should do some sit ups and push ups.
The four-time heavyweight champion shared how a Boys & Girls Club staff member told him at age 8 he could one day be boxing champion of the world. I was amused as this warrior recalled how he went home to ask his mother if it was “okay” for him to be the heavyweight champion when he grew up. She said yes but told Holyfield he would have to pay a price to accomplish his dream. Momma Holyfield knew you have to “put feet to your prayers.”
Devers was faced with serious medical challenges. She shared how doctor after doctor misdiagnosed her Graves disease - a thyroid disorder. She experienced weight loss, migraines and vision programs. The five-time medalist’s health was so threatened that doctors considered amputating her feet, but after treatment she returned to compete and won gold medals in 1992 and 1996.
Wayne B. Moss is BGCA's senior director of Sports, Fitness and Recreation.
Each Olympic athlete has a story. It’s a story of setting larger than life goals, having someone to believe in you, overcoming obstacles and never giving up. Use the time before and during the Olympic Games to inspire young people to greatness. Before the Games begin, go to the United States Olympic Web site at http://www.teamusa.org and have young people read about the athletes competing.
Parents can take your children into the backyard and practice cartwheels, sprinting or any number of games. If you have programs with lots of children, hold your own mini Olympics equipped with medals. You never know who might be the next Holyfield, Dawes, Devers or Joyner-Kersee!