Friday, April 10, 2009

Meeting Laura Wilkinson

Meeting Laura Wilkinson was very cool!!
Wouldn't my daughters be embarrassed by me using that phrase?

Back on April 1st, which now seems so long ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Olympic Gold Medalist Diving Champion, Laura Wilkinson. I was attending the local Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon meeting, where she was the guest speaker. She gave an inspirational story of her leaving college [OK, that's normally not so inspirational by itself] and giving up her scholarship to pursue her Olympic dream while training at the Woodlands Athletic Center (practically around the corner from me!). About 3 months before her first U.S. Olympic Trials, she broke her foot and lost most of her training time not to mention dealing with the bone setting wrong! Most of her training during this period was mental through visualization and preparatory training, plus watching films of her dives. In the end she scored first place at the US Olympic Trials, and the rest is history. She then talked about her fears today as she was transitioning to a life as a non-diver, through her foundation to build a facility (in the local area) to replace the now torn down Woodlands Athletic Center and to help train divers, as well as gymnastic and trampoline athletes--because they all use similar skill sets the thought is that one discipline's training will complement another.

After the lunch she took more questions than I had ever seen another speaker at the Chamber ever take before, and I've probably been to around 20 or more of these. After the event was over she stayed around and talked with people. After about 20 minutes of chatting with others, I walked over and introduced myself, and thanked her for coming out to speak. I thanked her for telling her inspirational story, and told her that I hoped that her future would prove to be even more successful and inspirational one day than her past has proved to be. I also told her that I could identify with her career change as I had 2 years ago changed my career path significantly and felt I was the better for it. Then she asked me several questions about what I did and how I handled those changes. Photobucket As I was finishing up and thanked her again, she offered my her 2000 gold medal and asked if I would like to hold it and look at it up close, and I could see in her eyes she genuinely meant it--she was not just going through the motions to have a good image. I had noticed before that a friend of mine with the Chamber was also near and had a camera, so I asked if I could get a photo taken. She smailed and took the medal and place it over my head and put her arm around me--and told me to hold up the medal as if I had won it! The most wonderful feeling came over me at that moment, probably partly due to all that I have been through recently, but also because I would never have asked for that, and would not have expected her to do it without prompting. Photobucket I had seen her show others the medal earlier and allowed them to wear it, and I know she probably has done this many, many, many times over the years, but I was just there to see her, and for her to show me that kindness and make me feel connected to her as if I was the most important person in her world for that instant really made me feel good for the first time in many days!! Photobucket
I am not easily impressed by people on a snap judgement, but she impressed me.


Amanda said...

That is absolutely amazing! It sounds like she is not only an exceptional athlete, but also a wonderful person. I'm glad you had a chance to meet her and have such a good interaction.

Jeff & Heather said...

Wow!! You got to wear a real Olympic gold medal!! That's SO cool!

Laura Wilkinson sounds like a really great person. I thought she was cool when I saw her on TV at the last Olympics signing autographs for other divers. The Woodlands will be lucky to have her start a training facility there.

K said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, Richard. I've enjoyed yours for some time now. I've been praying for you, your family, and your friend, who I believe may have replaced me on the TIR team...

Look forward to seeing you at Hog's Hunt!

Richard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Richard said...


Yes, we are both talking about the same person.

I'll look forward to seeing you in Huntsville, too!