As most of my blog readers know, I train down in San Diego at the Olympic Training Center. What some of you may not know is that I also trained down here in 2006, left for a couple years, and then moved back last year. A lot of athletes who train down here are resident athletes, meaning they live and train onsite. In 2006 I was one of those resident athletes, until they kicked me offsite and I could only use the facilities for training. The reason I was no longer able to be a resident athlete, was because I didn’t fit the criteria in place that determined which athletes possessed the potential to make teams and win medals.
During the years in between when I was elsewhere training, I didn’t have any major improvements that would blow the socks off anybody. In fact, I spent 2008 away from competition with a bad knee and a dismal outlook for the future. When I asked to be re-admitted to the resident program last year, it was only by luck (aka the grace of God) that they even took me. I still didn’t fit any of the “criteria” that was in place for athletes to be there and my age was against me. But luckily the USOC, who was in charge of the program last year, was not as strict as USATF in following the criteria from three years earlier and I was given another chance to prove myself.
Today I happened to be reminded of the improbable circumstances that brought me back to San Diego to train again. The program is being given back to USATF, and more than likely new “criteria” will be put in place. As a finalist at the last World Championships, I hope that I have proven myself and that my spot is no longer in jeopardy. I trust that they will see me as an athlete with the potential to make the medal stand the next time around. After all, this is the ultimate goal of a program such as this. They pour money into our development, and they want to see results. A few years back, I was deemed an athlete that wasn’t worth of the money because I more than likely was not ever going to produce results capable of earning a spot on a team and a medal. At that point it seemed as if my best years were behind me.
It’s ok that they didn’t believe. Perhaps, statistically speaking, they shouldn’t have. But I wanted to share this with all of you to show that there will be times in life when “others” might not think you have what it takes. They might consider your dreams to be too big and your aspirations just a tad too lofty. And that’s ok. Because at the end of the day, it really boils down to what you believe and what you have decided you are capable of. I never came back to the training center to just play in sand for a few more years and put off getting a real job. I knew there was more. And today, I still know there is more. And even if I am the only member of my fan club, I will continue to be my #1 fan and biggest believer. It’s not up to anyone else to take that position and I can’t rely on what others may think I am capable of. Sometimes you have to believe when no one else does.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jer. 29:11