The Paralympic games have come and gone, and I will forever be a Paralympian and Bronze medalist of the London 2012 games. I could have never prepared myself for what it would mean to be a part of such an amazing sporting event. From the moment I walked into the Paralympic Stadium to the roar of 80,000 supporters, the Games surpassed my wildest visions. Days later, circling the velodrome in celebration of our Team Sprint Bronze medal ride, I was overwhelmed with emotion. Rather than tears though it was pure joy as I pumped my fist and screamed out to my family, friends and teammates scattered about the 250 meter circumference of the track. Later in the week, cresting a hill in the road race, my competitors and I were immediately confronted by a helicopter hovering just above our heads as a film crew captured every minute of our race. It was as if I had been transplanted into the middle of the pelaton in the Tour de France. In short, what I experienced in 10 days this September inLondonleft me with memories that can never be replaced.
If I am so fortunate to represent theUnited Statesat another games in the future, I still imagine that nothing will exceed the feelings captured in this: my first games. With that in mind I have been asked often in the past week, “So what aboutRio?” to which my response is “quite possible.”
The truth is that preparing and earning a start at the Paralympics is a game of perseverance, sacrifice and hard work like I have never known. My wife Sara, children, family and friends have given so much to make this happen. While my physical being has a burning desire to return and make amends with some of my performances during the games, I am confident that I have represented my country well and left a positive impact on my teammates, competitors and all those that took their time to cheer us on during the games.
At the moment my focus must drift from cycling and return once again to the task of raising and supporting my family. Over the years the “To Do List”, has grown to a page of small print. In our immediate future we need to find a place to make home, I need to establish a secure and dependable means of supporting my family, and we deeply desire to connect with new and old friends– investing in their lives as they have invested in ours.
The next six months will go a long way in helping Sara and I sort out where our path leads in the coming years. I will never stop racing my bike that is for certain. It courses through my veins too strongly to stop. However, so too does my desire to be a loving husband, a present father and a motivator of others to pursue a life without limitations.
Thus, we begin a new chapter: one that has me exploring new ways to provide for my family, expanding my being on and off the bike while giving thanks to the many ways I have been blessed beyond what I deserve.
Below are images that help capture our final run in the Team Sprint and ultimate Bronze medal. The complexity of emotions and life experiences wrapped up in that 52 plus seconds will likely never be fully detailed in words. But these photos do provide frozen moments in time to reflect upon.
These images show the focus and athletic drive necessary to compete with the World’s best. The moment that life seems to pause as I fix my gaze on the timing board…the triumphant elation of one hand held high in response to the screams of friends and family spread throughout the stands. The honor of standing among the best athletes in the world and at last the embrace of Sara. There is no person that knows better the sacrifices and challenges we have faced to get here, but Sara’s reactions say it all…tears of joy. Life lived without limitations.
With the blink of an eye the final days of prep have come to a close and race day is only hours away. All has gone according to plan thus far as training goes. I have remained healthy, the efforts have been completed and banked; now all I can do is execute my game plan as I have trained, and let the clock draw the conclusions.
Since arriving here in the village everything has become a bit of blur you could say. Meals are like taking a trip around the world both by the variety of food to the sea of languages and cultures encountered. This journey has taken me to the far reaches of the world having experienced many things. However, nothing compares to the magnitude of the games.
Only time will help me to process all that I am experiencing here in the village and in competition but one thing is for certain, the Paralympics are about so much more than sport. At the heart of the games are the athletes, the medals, the sport. To the layman the visceral connection is one of amazement often a defying of nature really. For so long we have created a frame work of normality that guides us in determining what we may or may not be capable of. But the Games do not march to the drum beat of conventional thinking. To experience the Paralympic games is to be challenged to dream, to explore, and to live unbridled.
Walking into the Stadium of 80,000 people during the Opening Ceremony I could feel the admiration of the crowd and the excitement for the competition. But it was looking into their eyes that told the real story. We had all gathered to move one another in the direction of a better world. A world in which being normal is as simple as chasing a dream with 100% of your being… a world of ability… a world with out limitations.