Saturday, September 27, 2008

I am starting to realize the meaning of winning a gold medal; as days
go by the meaning is sinking in.
This entire experience is rather humbling. I spent years getting up
early, working out, eating right, teaching myself mental relaxation and focusing techniques, fine tuning my game and going to the gym or
training camps rather than to parties or on vacations. My entire being
was dedicated to one express purpose, winning gold.
I worked towards this goal with greater tenacity than I have dedicated
to anything else in my life.
Each time I would struggle to fit in a work out I would think about
gold. When I had a bad practice I would re-play my mistakes in my head
in order to correct them through either strength conditioning or by
changing my body mechanics.
I probably put in 100 hours on the court in the last year simply
doing drills designed to improve my footwork.
Add to that another 400 hours actually playing the game- and you get a
lot of time spent on a goalball court. One of the most important
aspects of my game is my speed and my cardio vascular conditioning. My
Body Mass Index is very low and my VO2 max very high.
Not only do I run a lot, but I have been regularly tested to make sure
that I am constantly improving. I pushed myself in ways I never have
to get to Beijing and came home with the medal I planned to come home
with around my neck.

Even so, a couple people have asked me about Beijing and questioned
whether or not I was happy since I only played a total of 43 minutes
during our time in Beijing. Goalball games are 20 minutes in length
and we played a total of nine games. I shut out Denmark, the Bronze
medal winning team- this was my parolympic moment to shine during pool
play.
Am I disappointed not to have played in the gold medal game? The
answer is simple- I am ecstatic!
I went to Beijing with this fantastic team with the hope of bringing home gold.
Gold is the medal I wear today and that I will be identified with for
the remainder of my sporting career.
One of the interesting things about this particular team is its depth
of talent. We had five veterans on a team of six players. Each player dedicated
their lives to gold in preparation for these games. The entire season
we have played different starting configurations- and this has been
very successful. This brought the level of our game up a notch and
forced us to be flexible or as coach likes to say, "ready for
anything."
I trust my coach and his judgment implicitly- so do the rest of the
members of my team. I adore my teammates and would do anything to help
any one of them be more successful; I know they would do the same for
me. There were five teams that could have medaled in Beijing but went
home without hardware.
The USA Woman's team came home with gold. I believe that Trust and
singularity of focus are two major factors that brought this team to
the top.

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