Flo-Jo’s sister-in-law Jackie Joyner-Kersee was my idol. A heptathlete who pushed herself to the limits and seemed to do it with poise and grace. She was tough as nails and worked hard to achieve her goals. I had posters, books and even a cat I named Kersee.
Every four years we get introduced to new batch of athletes who compete as professionals, but are only showcased during the Olympics. I believe NBC usually does the background stories that send those tiny shivers up and down your spine. This year we’re already hearing about the man who ran for three days straight to get away from rebels trying to add him to the army at age six.
Being a former intercollegiate athlete I love the Olympics…well the summer ones. I love watching gymnastics, swimming, diving, volleyball, and especially track. There’s a reason my characters tend to be athletes. Maybe I’m cheating, but I believe the sport or sports you play help determine your personality. In Chrysalis I have my volleyball playing Ellie and her football-playing boyfriend. It’s not just the sport, but also the position on the field. Ellie’s a commander, maybe not to begin with, but for her position she has to step up…much like how she is with the demons that attack her. Then Oscar self-confident wide receiver, look professionals like Steve Smith from the Panthers.
In The Frozen I have Kiriana who was a division one sprinter then becomes a coach following an injury and the realization that she couldn’t commit to be an Olympic athlete. Although Kiriana has the capacity to be singularly focused, much like in love she’s never truly had the motivation.
This year we have Lolo Jones making a comeback…it should be a repeat. Four years ago she hit a hurdle when she was on pace to not only win the 100-meter hurdles, but possibly break a record. She comes from one of those spine tingling childhoods and turned her negative into a positive. The fact that she’s an interracial child just plays so nicely into my little world too.
Here’s the kicker with Lolo. She’s beautiful, strong and has conviction. There have been overrated stars that sports have paraded out to be the ‘face’ of the sport because of their beauty, but couldn’t back up the hype. Ala Maria Sharapova the tennis player that gets all TV coverage even though she’s stayed at the bottom of the tennis rankings.
When Lolo hit the hurdle four years ago it was like I was kicked in the gut, because I understood that a millisecond and a millimeter could end decades of work. I’d been cheering for her since the trials in Washington. Because as they say there are some sports that even if you’ve won the title at the world championships, it means nothing if you can’t win at the Olympics.
Join me in supporting all the great athletes and learn their stories. Being an athlete takes hard work, perseverance and a strong sense of self. I’ll keep my characters up to the high standards set by those who excel in their various sports the right way and maybe once in awhile sprinkle a few of the naughty ones. Not every athlete needs to come from a hard luck story to make them worthy of your support, but as you learn what they put their body’s through everyday to become the best in the world ask yourself could you?
Check out Lolo’s story. Tomorrow I’ll be blogging on Rebel Reasoning about strong women and giving girls someone to look to as a role model. I’m glad when I was younger I had Jackie Joyner-Kersee to look too. No hard luck story just a hard working one, but I think now Lolo Jones is someone the young girls need to look to. When I saw that she had 119,000 twitter followers and Kim Kardashian only had 57,000 I smiled. Maybe the tide is turning and we are moving back to strong role models for girls…even if it’s only for the Olympics.