This post is a story is from the United States Olympic Committe(USOC) Curriculum Series. I think it shows what commitment can look like at a high level. The account is about the speed skater Dan Jansen.
Dan Jansen grew up in a Wisconsin family of nine kids. He loved to skate – the faster, the better. He began competing in speed skating competitions around the time he turned 10. He soon found a love for both the speed and the competition. He committed himself not only to making the Olympic team, but medaling. Everybody knew he would. After all, he used his time so well in training.
Unlike many other Olympic athletes, Dan never had any trouble making the team in his sport. Also, he was a regular winner in other world-class speed skating events. However, when it came to the Olympics, things just seemed to unravel. It even happened in events where he was favored to take the gold – sometimes heavily favored. He competed in the 1984, 1988, and 1992 Olympics without winning a single medal.
Dan’s failure to medal in 1992 in Albertville, France was particularly hard on him. Just three hours before one of the races, his sister Jane died of leukemia. She and Dan had been particularly close. With no medals and his sister’s death, he easily could have lost faith in his plan. Not Dan. Instead, he recommitted himself to his training schedule to keep first things first. He would win that Olympic medal – for Jane.
Dan got one last chance to win his Olympic medal at Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. It would be in the 1,000 meter – his last Olympic race. As with his other Olympic races, Dan’s family was in the stands that day. Someone else was there too. Dan and his wife had brought their little daughter Janey. She had been named in remembrance of Dan’s sister.
This was it; there was no tomorrow. Dan’s race was flawless. As he crossed the finish line, he knew the gold was his. People cheered, cried, and hugged each other. Later that day, Dan even got a special call of congratulations from the President of the United States.
One of the most memorable scenes in Olympic history happened right after the race. With little Janey in his arms and and an American flag in his hand, Dan took a victory lap. The dream he had committed to so long ago had come true.
Even when he was the best he still had to be committed in order to win. He established the Dan Jansen foundation right after winning his gold medal in 1994, to fight against leukemia. The disease that took his sister’s life.
If we stay committed to fight leukemia, we might win against that too.