Ask any athlete, and they will tell you that the most important meet after the Championships is the World Athletic Final. You make it into this meet by competing all year long at the highest tiered meets and earning points based on your finish. By the end of the year, 8 people are awarded entry into the meet…the first 7 are guaranteed their spot, and the 8th can be a wildcard if they (meet promoter) so choose and have a good reason to not just take the 8th place finisher. I struggled a little towards the latter part of my season, but thanks to my early competing on 6 different continents, I still was able to secure 7th place. Well, actually I tied for 7th place when it was all said and done. But how you get here doesn’t really matter because once you’re here, it’s anybody’s ball game. And I truly needed for it to be my day to play ball. This meet pays well and everybody makes money…better than any other meet I could possibly go to and I need that more than anything when I am about to cease making money until next season rolls around. I have no guaranteed base salary, I finished 9th when they pay top 8 at World Championships, and my bank account is in some serious need of a little security. I don’t do this for the money (obviously), but I can’t survive without it either.
Which is why I almost did a low scale freak out when I found out yesterday, the day I was flying to Greece, that I wasn’t on the start list. I have planned for this meet all year long, adjusted my schedule and competed all over the world so that I could give myself the best opportunity to make it here, and now, 48 hours before I’m supposed to compete, I’m told I might as well be flying home. Meets are fickle, that’s just part of the business, but this meet is supposed to purely be based on your performance throughout the year, and by performing well you are rewarded with the opportunity to end your season with a bang. But instead, my season will now end with a whimper, and a fairly broke whimper at that. Somehow they found a way to take the other top 7, leave me out, and use the wildcard on the girl in 9th, a well-deserving silver medalist and one of the top jumpers in the world for many years. Still…it’s not my fault she wasn’t top 8.
I try very hard not to complain because at the end of the day, I know I’m still blessed. But for so long I’ve been waiting to feel like I’ve made it far enough so that it seems like I’m not gasping for air, barely able to hold my head above water. But yet, here I am at the end of the season…without a coach, without a contract, and without this last big meet to try and make next year just a little bit more comfortable. I know it doesn’t overshadow all the bright spots, but right now the immediate future looks a little bleak. No matter what I do, I seem to be a day late and a dollar short. But sometimes that’s life, right? You just have to constantly find new ways to make lemonade.