COLORADO SPRINGS — Describing the incredible nature of the Olympic and Paralympic games is a difficult task, which is why we spoke with athletes who have competed in the games. Not only did they share their reactions to the entire experience, but their personal hopes and brief bits of advice for athletes aspiring to perform at their peak.
According to the athletes we spoke with, the games not only represent the culmination of years spent in preparation, but also years of dreaming as well.
"The games to me mean, so much," stated Jenny Arthur, an Olympic weightlifter, "it was a dream that I had since I was young girl. I knew that I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself, something that inspired the next generation as it did for me."
"When you set out to do this so long ago," commented Tricia Downing, a Paralympian in the sport of shooting, "you had your sight set on it, and when it happens and you are going into the Olympic ceremonies, it's kind of like, you have to pinch yourself and say this is really real."
"When you're stepping out into any match in the Olympic and Paralympic games," commented Dartanyon Crocket, a Paralympian in judo, "that space is no longer just regular space, it's sacred space."
The athletes we spoke with made it clear that one of the key things to look for when working to excel in any given sport, is a deep love of that competition.
"I think the best advice that I can give someone who want wants to excel in sports is to be doing a sport that you love," said Downing.
"To be at this level, you have to be in love with it," continued Crockett.
If you find something you love, the sacrifice and the time is going to all be worth it," stated Amanda McGrory, a seven-time Paralympic medalist in wheelchair racing, "you're going to have your bad days, but those bad days are also giving you something to learn from and something to grow from, and it's going to make you stronger and better in the end."
Finally, according to Arthur, the hope is that others will be inspired to be their best.
"The Olympics is so incredible and you can take away so much, I just hope that there is somebody out there that is kind of being a little bit more inspired than from the day before."
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