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  • Tracy Hooper

Hello from Track Town USA



This week, I’m at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon for the U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field with my daughter and husband.

 

I got merch!

 

This is a vacation, but I am so inspired and moved by these athletes’ examples of perseverance and sacrifice and strength --- even in defeat, that I want to share three observations with you --- from the stands.

 

 

# 1: Carry Yourself with Confidence.

 

Most of these athletes do that. Some have swagger, like Sha'Carri Richardson and Noah Lyles. At first, their gesticulating seemed over the top and cocky. At “Take Your Mark,” there’s running and jumping and pointing to the sky. At “set,” the switch flipped to intense concentration.

 

They crushed their 100-meter finals, by the way!

 

Then, there’s Heptathlete, Anna Hall. During some of her seven-events, she didn’t seem cocky. She seemed, "too cool," like she thought she was "all that" or didn't care when she missed her mark. But, my daughter, Margaret, set me straight. She said, "Mom, you saw Anna as preening and looking “aloof.” I saw her -- as being “in-her-zone” and vibing to the music coming through the loudspeakers. There’s no one-way to get yourself psyched ---especially when you have to nail SEVEN different events. Or maybe Anna looked nonchalant so she could stay calm... and focus on her next round.”

 

Good point, Margaret!

 

BTW, Anna Hall won the Heptathlon!

 

So, for mere mortals like us --- what does “Carry Yourself with Confidence” look like? 

It won’t look the same for everyone. I did notice, though, that all three athletes had great posture.

 

Their posture spoke confidence before they hit any starting line.

 

Observation # 2: Get Back Up.

 

During the 2020 Olympic Trials here at Hayward, 800-meter runner, Nia Akins tripped in the final and fell to the track and finished last. But she got up… and finished. 

 

This year, she won that same 800-meter race! Talk about resilience --- and grit and determination and confidence in herself. And her brave commitment to four more years of practice to reach her Olympic goal.

 

Ironically, the amazing, Athing Mu, who won the 2020 Olympic Trials --- AND 

the Gold Medal in Tokyo, tripped here, during the first lap of this year’s 800-meter final.

She got up, but she never caught up --- and wept as she crossed the finish line.

 

We wept with her.

 

Observation # 3: Meet the Moment

 

It's so cool to see the “starting rituals” for these athletes. Lots of jumping, Power Posing 

and hair "adjusting.” Using their hands to "visualize" a successful jump or throw. Activating their muscles. Making the sign of the cross. Deep breathing. And lots and lots of quiet, get-psyched self-talk. We can see their lips moving!

 

You and I can have those rituals, too. Before you have a big event: a speech, a presentation, a tough conversation, a high-stakes interview, develop your own rituals to get yourself psyched to Meet the Moment.

 

We can all take a lesson from the discipline and commitment and passion of Olympic athletes. Confidence doesn’t fit on a “starting block” or on “the length of a runway.” It looks different for every single athlete, and for every single one of us, too.

 

Thanks for reading.

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