Women's Road Race 2012 London Olympic Games

Shelley Olds in the winning break at the 2012 London Olympics before a bit of bad luck with a flat tire

When you are privileged enough to call yourself an athlete (and you may count yourself in this category even if you question am I an athlete?), you can be sure that at some point you will experience a big disappointment on the day of a race. No one had reason to feel that more than Shelley Olds during the Women’s Road Race at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Going into the games she was a top choice for winning a medal, especially if the race ended in a bunch sprint. Olds was in the winning break when she got a flat tire that ultimately changed her Olympic fate that day. She ended up 7th, which is an INCREDIBLE accomplishment, but a difficult pill to swallow when you had a realistic shot at coming home with an Olympic medal.

To know that you were in the winning move and it all went away with a bit of bad luck; to feel the years of dedication, commitment, and sacrifice on the line as you got your wheel change and saw the winning break riding away; when you’ve been training for a specific event it can be devastating to have a little bad luck affect the outcome of your race. When this happens, it can be challenging to see your race as anything else but an unrealized dream and an utter disappointment. It’s seemingly impossible to see it any other way. Or is it? I’m here to challenge you to start re-envisioning what it means to be successful on the day of your event – to step back and gain a broader perspective of the entire landscape. When you zoom out, you see that race day is only part of the picture.

Shelley Olds understands this perspective. In this fantastic interview on the Norcal Cycling News blog, she shares what she learned from her experience at the 2012 Olympic Games and how important it is to take the whole picture into account when reflecting back on your race. She says:

“When I look back on the whole experience, making the Olympic team and my performance on race day is something I will always be so proud of. Although I happened to have very bad luck in the race, and possibly had a real shot at an Olympic medal, I enjoyed every moment of the preparation and build up to the Games.”

Shelley Olds is proud of everything she did to put herself in position to win at the Olympics. All the work she put in to be her best that day – for every tough training session, for every sacrifice she made, for putting herself out there and taking the risk, for all of it – she’s taking all of these things into consideration when she reflects back on her experience at the Olympics.

When you think about a time something went wrong and wish you could erase that memory from your mind, it’s time to reframe your event and tell another story; the REAL story. You can start by answering these two questions:

  • What did I do well during my training?
  • What did I do well on race day?

It’s hard not to think that the entire journey was a failure when you didn’t accomplish your goals on race day, but the outcome of your event only tells one small part of the story. Don’t let one moment of bad luck erase your memory of all the sacrifices you made and goals you accomplished along the way to your race. Don’t let someone else’s criteria of what it means to be successful affect how you feel about your performance.

Now that you have taken a step back and looked at the big picture, leave a comment & tell me what challenges you encountered on race day and why you are proud of what you accomplished.

Photo Courtesy of roanokecollege used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/