Phelps. Biles. Felix. Ledecky. Gatlin. These names, among other Olympic stars, are synonymous with greatness. If only we could bottle up the energy, emotion, and inspiration from a solid two weeks of Olympic Games, we might never hit the snooze alarm or miss another workout again. And in the midst of watching their extraordinary feats, we often forget these profound athletes are still human. They require sleep, they need oxygen to breathe, they feel pain, and they sometimes fail -- just like you and me.
Most importantly, they didn't suddenly wake up one morning a silver or gold medalist. They all had to start somewhere. For example, Michael Phelps had the influence of his sister to give him an outlet for his unbridled energy, and the adoptive grandparents of Simone Biles, along with a nudge from a certain daycare camp instructor, pointed her towards gymnastics.
Somewhere along the way, they've all had to face overwhelming odds, and they've all had to overcome obstacles to get where they are today. Aside from their awe inspiring performances on the field of competition, it is their life stories that often warrant our interest. Their beginning circumstances were often not perfect, and the timing was often not ideal. Where did they come from? What makes them tick?
No, the inordinate majority of us cannot aspire to be Olympic athletes. Nor can many of us dream of holding a spot alongside an elite field at our local 5K. But whatever we direct our hopes toward, it can never become a reality until we get started.
In this issue, you'll get a glimpse at some superior Oklahoma athletes, truly devoted to their sport. They are examples of a winning formula of consistency, passion, and mental fortitude -- three things we can all improve, regardless of our genetic inheritance.
And check out our interview with 32-year veteran triathlete, 65-year-old Roger Gartman of Edmond, OK. With another appearance at the Ironman World Championships in his grasp, he is a template of dedication and resilience.
And while Roger's beginning in the sport may make us chuckle, it was fearless. After all, he dove into his first race without goggles, and without any real experience in the water. But, most importantly, he chose to jump in.
Look at him now. With over three hundred races under his belt, Roger continues to improve his craft and instill his love for the sport in many others he encounters.
We can learn from the world's elite and those around us chasing their dream. Less then ideal circumstances should never hold us back from pursuing something great. Goggles or not, dive in.