- I had the pleasure on Monday of covering an event at UConn in which U.S. Olympic athletes spoke to students. The following is the article I wrote on it. I believe that Olympic athletes are inspiring role models! Ps. As the blog post title says, I did get a photo with Apolo Ohno…so awesome!!
Olympic and Paralympic Athletes Share Their Stories With UConn Students
- The UConn Student Union theater was filled with students Monday who listened to Olympic athletes Marlon Shirley, Steve Mesler, and Apolo Ohno share their experiences and life lessons.
Marlon Shirley, the fastest amputee runner in the world, was candid about the challenges he faced as a young child, including an accident at age 5 that caused him to lose his left foot. But there’s nothing that can keep you down, Shirley said.
“Medals don’t mean anything unless you’re going to make something of it,” he said.
Shirley began a program called “Champions in Life” which mentors under-privileged children.
Steve Mesler, whose bobsled team won the first gold medal for the United States in 62 years, told the crowd how he was once a track and field athlete at the University of Florida. Mesler’s athletic career was not going well. Sometimes what we think we’ll be successful at, we’re not, he said, so you just have to try something else. Despite troubles with track and field, Mesler decided his athletic career wasn’t over. It was then that he tried bobsledding. He recommends that young people find what they are passionate about and pursue it.
Apolo Ohno, a short track speed skater, has been involved in sports all of his life. He was a competitive swimmer growing up, but discovered speed skating and decided to pursue it. Success comes from your mindset and we all have the capacity to succeed, he said. Ohno told the crowd that they must always ask themselves if they are giving 100 percent. When looking back on his career, he remembers most fondly the times when he faced his own fears and insecurities, he said.
“If you believe in yourself, anything is possible,” Ohno said.
When a man in attendance asked the athletes how they power through feelings of being unmotivated, Ohno said he knows he has to put in effort day in and day out in order to reach his goals. He views training as making deposits in the bank. Then, when the Olympics come around, he makes a big withdrawal and hopes that there’s a lot of money in that bank, he said.
Autographs and Photographs
Following the talk, many students were able to get autographs and pictures with the athletes. Steve Mesler had his gold medal with him and let students hold it while taking a picture with him. Claire Thomas, a senior, said that she was glad she went.
“They were surprisingly funny and approachable,” Thomas said.