The Olympic Experience

Two weeks ago I competed at my first Olympic Games.

An event I had dedicated the last four years of my life to.

An event I believed I was ready for.

Waking up the morning of my competition not one part of me was nervous. There was a calm reserved feeling that flowed through my body as I boarded the athlete’s bus to the range with my fellow competitors. This steady feeling came from the belief that I had done everything possible to be the best I could be on the day, with no doubt that I deserved my spot on the team.

Everything went to plan, until it didn’t.

I qualified highest in the competition, in trying weather, to comfortably make the final top six. Walking out, my feelings and nerves hadn’t changed as my cool, calm and collected persona entered the finals arena. Within thirty minutes I had gone from top qualifier to finishing fifth at the Olympics through no fault but my own. Consequently missing out on a spot in the medal matches. I still cannot describe to you in words, the feeling of heart-wrenching disappointment that ran through my veins.

It had never felt so right and yet gone so wrong.

I left everything out on the range that day and all I could think about was how I let my family, my friends and the whole of Australia down. I take great pride in representing my country and knowing I didn’t achieve what I was expected to do was a crushing life experience moment.

That day, my teammate won the gold medal for Australia. As I ran up to hug her for a split second my disappointment faded and I was filled with joy for her. Knowing she had achieved greatness but also represented our sport in a positive light. It was in those seconds of embracing her that I realised there is more to the Olympic Games than just medals, something I never thought I would say.

There is one thing I learnt that day that will never leave me. “It is your response to winning or losing, that makes you a winner or a loser” and while it is great to succeed in your sport it is even greater to excel in character.

For two weeks I lived with 11,000 athletes from 207 nations all wanting the same result as I did. It was then that I realised that this feeling of unworthiness and disappointment was not experienced by just me but many. In time this feeling would fade and out of that I would learn. I am so thankful for the support I received after my event even if I felt it was not deserved.

Just because I had a bad final doesn’t make or define me as a failure, it just means I am human. I believe this entire journey will only contribute positively to the story of my life and the path I walk.

Babe Ruth once said: “Every strike brings you closer to the next home run”. I now feel like Rio was my strike and Tokyo will be my home run.

Being resilient is something I am very good at. My perseverance to succeed, not only in my sport but life, makes me determined to overcome every obstacle in my way. I now look at Rio as an experience of a lifetime, not one that I could have done any differently.

It has been an incredible four years of highs and lows and I am looking forward to what the next four will bring!

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Article by: Laetisha Scanlan