I always know it’s Olympics time because I get a nightly, breathless phone call from my mother saying, “Did you see that? You’re watching, right? Tell me you’re watching.”
My mom is an Olympics junkie. She loves it all: the inspirational stories, the underdog triumphs and the amazing performances from the best the world has to offer.
My husband does not share my family’s Olympics enthusiasm, and he groaned at the idea of sitting through hours of TV coverage just waiting for one little gem of inspiration. So, we compromised, and I compiled the most inspiring moments from this year’s Winter Olympics so my children could still experience the magic.
The Olympics are a beautiful microcosm of what we want for the world and what we hope our children will become. Athletes from different countries cheer for each other while pushing each other to become better. They overcome physical and mental challenges, sometimes snagging the gold and sometimes just doing their personal best.
Even though the games came to a close over the weekend, you can still enjoy these amazing moments with my top five inspirational messages from this year’s Olympics. Take some time this week to share them with your kids along with the lessons about grit, determination and dedication from these athletes.
1. Overcoming adversity
Akwasi Frimpong grew up in a one-room house in Ghana with eight siblings. Determined to become an athlete, he moved to the Netherlands, where he learned Dutch, practiced three sports and worked two jobs (one as a door-to-door vacuum salesman). He competed for Ghana in this year’s Olympics in the sport of skeleton. Although he came in last in his event, his story of grit and passion won over spectators, as did his signature celebratory dance at the end of each race.
2. The art of finishing
Mexican cross-country skier German Madrazo finished dead last in his 15 km event — a full 26 minutes after the gold medalist. But Madrazo didn’t slink into his last-place position. Instead, he grabbed a Mexican flag and enthusiastically finished his race. His teammates and his competitors embraced him at the finish line. I love this triumphant finish because most times in life, we aren’t going to win. We may not even place. We don’t really have control over whether we come in first or last, but we can control whether we finish the race we start.
Watch Madrazo cross the finish line at nbcolympics.com/video/mexicos-madrazo-crosses-finish-line-style-15km
3. Getting back up
Oh, Nathan Chen. You are amazing. After bombing his short program and landing in a disappointing 17th place, USA figure skater Chen made the comeback of all comebacks. In his free skate, he rocked the figure skating world by completing a record six quad jumps in one program. I’m sure Chen was devastated by his subpar performance and the realization that he would not earn himself a medal in this Olympics, but he got back up, dusted himself off and decided he was going to go for broke.
Speaking of getting back up, Simen Hegstad Krueger of Norway had an amazing comeback after he stumbled and fell with two other skiers at the start of the 30 km skiathlon. He came back from last place, surpassing all the competitors ahead of him and winning gold.
I want my children to learn what these athletes know: Setbacks are not finales, as long as you get up, try again and maybe even surprise the world.
Watch Chen’s historic free skate here: nbcolympics.com/video/nathan-chen-throws-six-quads-historic-free-skate
And Krueger’s comeback here: nbcolympics.com/news/norways-krueger-overcomes-crash-win-gold-mens-30km-skiathlon
4. Siblings can get along (and win medals!)
As a mother, this is mind-blowing. My kids can’t even make a peanut butter sandwich together without fighting. But the Shibutani siblings, Maia and Alex, have been skating together since they were kids and won the bronze, becoming the first U.S. siblings to win an Olympic ice dance medal.
To my kids, unless you’re bickering about whether you’re going for the silver or the gold, please take a note from the Shib Sibs and get it together.
See the siblings free dance here: nbcolympics.com/news/maia-alex-shibutani-make-history-their-own-pyeongchang
5. Fighting until the bitter end
Who doesn’t love a last-minute, heart-in-your-throat victory?
The USA women’s hockey team delivered just that in their victory against Canada, winning the gold in a 3-2 shootout that kept spectators on the edge of their seats until the final moment. Both teams gave 100 percent until the final buzzer, exemplifying the Olympic idea that it’s not over ‘til it’s over. The win was the first for the USA women’s team since 1998.
See the coverage and the winning shot here: nbcolympics.com/news/gold-last-us-scores-third-period-equalizer-wins-shootout