Thursday, March 6, 2008
Howdy...as I sit here just returned from a month trip to Australia, I remember where I was right before I left and the mixed emotions that I had . It was a gamble, an expensive gamble at that. I had never tried to compete in February before, much less in another country on the other side of the world. For once (not including 1 lucky evening in Vegas) that gamble paid off and paid off HUGE!
I left with the aspirations of having 3 meets down under and hoping to be able to throw between 76-78m in each meet. Those results would finish me in the top 4 of each meet, allowing me to receive a "few" needed World Athletics Tour Points and a small bump to my World Ranking. As fate would have it, I managed results of 77.67m, 80.87m and throwing 10cm of my all time best 81.89m in the last meet, the Australian Olympic Trials. Departing Australia with 2 second place finishes, and one Grand Prix victory. As of now, early as it is, my World Ranking jumped from #31 to #14 and #3 on the World Athletics Tour.
As I analyze my current situation, I remember where I was 1 year ago and those that helped out in the journey. Now its time for me to spend a few minutes...hours...no days, praising the individuals that helped keep the Olympic Dream alive for me. I haven't done this in the previous blog entries, and I hope as you read this you don't feel as this is some kind of political propaganda to boost others egos, just know that it is a heart felt and sincere thank you to those that operate behind the scenes that don't get as much acknowledgment as they deserve. I think somewhere there is some hideous country song that says behind every good man, there is a better woman...well heres a fact, behind every athlete that is an immense support structure that is seldom seen, except for today.
My parents have long supported my dream of competing for the USA and have taken many financial hits, including delaying their own retirement and watched mountains of debt climb up as their son pursued his Olympic Dream. To my Mom & Dad, no words can express my gratitude for your unwaivering support. You have said that your previous financial backing was an "investment" in my future...I cant wait to see your "investment" pay out largely in 6 months time. There is a word class organization and a world class individual that heads it up, on who's behalf that I wright this blog entry...Amory Rowe and In The Arena. Without the support of Amory and In The Arena, this past years journey and all its experiences would be one word...impossible. To Amory, you have made the impossible, possible and the dream a reality. I cant express my families and my thanks in words, so I wont even struggle to find them because it would be a gross understatement. The United States Olympic Training Center was wiling to take a gamble on a guy who put all his eggs in one basket and it has thus far panned out. Without being accepted there, I would have been working a 9 to 5 back in October of 2006, a huge thanks to them as well.
Ok, that has been long overdue and I just felt I needed to get that out of the way...On to the good stuff. I approaching the 1 year anniversary with In The Arena and am eager to embark on year #2. Looking back at the successes and failures of the past years community programs, I feel the need to "funnel" my activities to certain age groups. I am going to make an attempt to reach out to kids from grades 2-5 and 10-12. It seems to me that the younger kids that fall between 2nd-5th grades look at Olympic Athletes as lager than life, they don't quite differentiate between "famous" baseball and football players and Olympic athletes. All they see is an athlete at the highest level and know that they are doing something bigger than they can comprehend. It is these kids that seem to hang on every word that you say, and I often get letters from these kids who have coined the catch phrase "I wanna be like Mike"... The kids that are reaching the upper levels of high school are an entire new ball game. These are the kids that will actually look to you for advice on life issues that they may not be able to get at home. It is this opportunity that allows us to plant the seeds that the Olympic Movement is all about. I have found through a couple of projects that the kids that fall into grades 6-10 are sometimes "to cool for school" and aren't open to seeing things in the large picture. These kids are often searching to find their own identity and wont look for help in outside sources and will figure it out on their own through trial and error.
I have the rest of the week off, and have some time to reflect and ponder new and old community projects and hope to have some exciting news for you on the next blog entry. As I sit here and proof-read this entry, it strikes me that I haven't really expressed all that I wanted to say, especially in the "thank you" department...but I will save that for another place and time...how about in Asia in August. Speak to you again soon, Mike++