the winter olympics are in full swing in sochi, russia, and I watched a bit of women's ski jumping this morning.
one of the american athletes in the sport is actually the daughter of an old biking buddy, so I have a little personal pull to the event and wish for her success, and it's always a bit of a tingle to watch her.
I watched the trial jumps, where the young women jumped in bib number order, beginning with number 1 and continuing to the final jumper, number 30.
hailing from 12 different countries, these young women, many of whom have been jumping more years of their lives than not, all perched upon the starting bar, awaited the signal, then swooped down the slope and up over the course before touching down ninety, one hundred meters later. with courage, guts, agility, and grace.
all of them.
and the top 3 were named and medaled and were told to stand on the podium.
the top contender, from japan, placed "a disappointing fourth" according to one news article.
a young woman from germany took the top spot, someone who'd never before even won a world cup in the sport.
so what about numbers 4 through 30?
these young women--like all olympic athletes--devote their lives to their training, forfeit normal relationships and experiences, and frequently receive little more than a mention from the press, from the world. and they are better at their sports than anyone else in their countries, or they wouldn't be where they are.
to participate in such a worldwide competition that only truly recognizes the top 3 . . . what must this be like?
I don't think they complain. I don't think they feel left out or mistreated, but to be that good at something and still not make the cut . . . I can't imagine.
I, of course, feel pretty darn amazing when I reach the top of any old hill on my bicycle.
I'm thrilled when I sell the products I designed and created, every time.
when someone praises my writing, I glow.
when I prepare food and people actually compliment--and eat--it, I'm deeply satisfied.
so I suppose it's all relative.
but today, this week, during this time of the olympics, I have a greater awareness of what it might feel like to be in the bottom half of the best in the world. to know that you qualified to be there--powerful--and to accept that you are still not as good as the ones who podium. to be the cream of the cream, and to still have one level left above you.
I hope each one of those athletes who don't podium feel darn amazing, are thrilled, glow, and are deeply satisfied. because they are awesome.
even if given a number between 4 and 30.