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“The Olympian’s Success Paradox”
This past weekend, unlike many of you, I did not watch the Olympic Trials. I rarely do, or the Olympics for that matter. I usually watch a few judo matches from my friends but not the whole thing. I will watch matches and the Olympics in part, over time, while studying and watching film but I’m just not able to sit down and watch the whole thing yet. It’s an emotional experience.

I cannot begin to tell you how many calls I got about Ms. Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas falling of the balance beam or Mr. David Oliver not showing up for the 110 meter hurdle finals because of an hamstring injury or Mr. Usain Bolt still being able to run even though he is injured or Allyson Felix not qualifying for the 200 meters. There were to many calls and texts to count. I’m definitely not the authority on “all things Olympic” but when my friends look through their phone contacts it becomes very clear that I’m usually the only Olympian that they know or know on a personal level which they can feel comfortable enough to call or text. And then, and only then, does it become apparent of how rare it is to be an Olympian.

Last night a friend called me in amazement of how someone can train for years and years, only to see it all go away with one mistake or one arbitrary condition. She said, “This is too much.” I replied, “Oh, I’m aware!”

Gabrielle Douglas

When we got of the phone it took me a while to come down. I was fighting the urge to go on the NBC or ESPN site to watch. I did not. I instead watched a movie and hung out with my children. The Olympics are a wonderful time of the year and I love the fact that I’m an Olympian. I also love being in a very rare fraternity of such great men and women. However, there are times where I relive the stories of my friends that did not make it and the experiences, sacrifices, injuries and heartbreak that occurred during the pursuit of the Olympics as well as the heartbreaking stories of my friends and fellow Olympians that did make it.

All Olympians do not live the life of Michael Phelps. There’s my friend Jimmy Pedro who literally had to reinvent himself after the Olympics and now is a niche market business mogul in the world of combat sports as well as an uber successful judo coach. Then there are people like myself, Rick Hawn, Daniel Kelly, Hector Lombard and many others that have utilized the Mixed Martial Arts movement to reinvent ourselves and branch out in the worlds of grappling, Brazilian Jiujitsu and striking. None of us quite hit it big like Ronda Rousey, Dan Henderson, Daniel Cormier or Ben Askren but we made our footprints in that arena just the same.

As I digress, the key here is to understand that the Olympics are an awesome experience but there is a lot more to it than what you see on television. There is a lot more to it than what you see at the Olympic Trials and everyone who lines up to compete has an amazing story of sacrifice, luck, heartbreak, preparation and hard work. And it is important to understand these things when you watch the games.

I certainly hope that you will take the time to read the book, “The Olympian’s Success Paradox” in order to get a better understanding of the Games and the process of what the games does to and has on those who participate and those who do not. The participants, the families, the friends and the cities that host them…… And you can also support an Olympian as a bonus – ME.

I do recognize that I’m rambling some but during the Olympics I have to write as therapy and I figured why not share some of my ruminations and feelings during the Olympics. Olympic years are tough but they are also a time to reflect on one of the greatest accomplishments of my life as well as how my Olympic Dream, overnight, turned into a nightmare. Nobody enjoys losing. And at the Olympics…. many of us leave with a loss and we try our damnest to win the “next” fight in life and we chase challenges to find ways to make the pain of that “loss” go away but find out in the end, there’s no way to erase it. No matter how hard you try. 🙁

These are the unfortunate truths about the process.

Thanks for reading.

May God bless you.

Dedicated to your improvement,

Dr. Rhadi Ferguson
2004 Olympian
Author – Coach – Speaker – Teacher