Olympic Dreams Deferred

“What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”
-Langston Hughes

With less than a month until the opening ceremony at the Rio Olympic Games, most of the Olympic Trials around the world have concluded and the teams have been selected. My Olympic dreams were cut short unfortunately due to an injury. After my coach and I decided not to compete at the Trials, I was not even sure if I was emotionally able to watch the event on television. Not being able to compete is a tough pill to swallow knowing that one of those eight lanes could have been mine. And now, due to my injury I did not even have the opportunity to race. However, being a true fan of the sport and a supporter of my friends that were racing, I chose to watch the event.

34 men lined up for the start of the Men’s 100 meter dash and only three competitors would make it to the Olympic Games.  These athletes spent four years and thousands of hours of training for an event that lasted less than 10 seconds. Most people’s eyes of course were on the top three finishers that qualified for the Olympic team; my eyes however were on those who didn’t qualify for Rio.

I thought about the many more athletes that were at home watching the event because of unfortunate circumstances such as injury, non-qualification, lack of finances to pay for travel, or any other reason that shattered a dream.  I know first-hand the sacrifices and hardships many of those athletes had to endure over the past four years. I have heard stories of athletes sleeping in airports for several days because they couldn’t afford to get home, some leaving their family for years to train, relationships lost, years of sleeping on a friend’s sofa, and many of more humbling stories. Many Olympic Hopefuls often aren’t paid a lot of money and need part-time jobs to survive and pay their bills.

However, sport is an area that allows the best to defy all odds, dream unbelievable dreams, and continuously reach their highest potential. Along with that, we elite athletes will do whatever it takes to accomplish our goals. The tenacity and ambition that a top athlete inherently has, is very unique and can make the biggest dreams come true. For those top three finishers, an amazing dream did come true; however the rest of the athletes have to live their life knowing they took their best shot but fell short. And consequently following that, they also need to make a decision on what’s next.

Many of us athletes have been focusing on this one single goal for the past four years. So now, do we fight another four years to go through qualification for the next Games? How can we be better prepared for the next Olympic cycle?  There will be some athletes who retire and others will continue to give it their all to reach their dream.  It’s a tough decision of course, but it’s one that every athlete from college to Olympic gold medalist will face at one point in their career.

My advice to everyone is to give any dream you have your absolute best! No matter how impossible the dream may seem. Although I wasn’t able to compete for the Rio team I still was able to live my dream as an Olympic Hopeful who traveled the world racing in front of thousands of fans. I am from a very small town called Surry in Virginia but always dreamed big. I am sure my late parents are still very much proud of all that I have accomplished. I hope to continue to inspire others to reach their lifetime dream in the future and also live mine!

If you wish, follow me on: http://www.keithricks.com/ or Instagram: @keith_ricks

Learn more about the ACP and other athletes like myself: http://athlete.adecco.com/

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