Have Plate Will Travel : 2016 Rio Summer Games, never forget to dream big


Saturday, August 6, 2016

2016 Rio Summer Games, never forget to dream big

Every four years, the world takes a moment to celebrate the achievements of an amazing, yet small group, of individuals. The 2016 Summer Games exemplifies the best athletes in the world. From well known athletes to names few are able to pronounce, these men and women exemplify heart and dedication. While only a few will win gold, silver and bronze, each and every person who participates is deserving of all our adulation.

As a parent of two competitive swimmers, I often debate in my head the situations that my children face. When this four year cycle comes around, the kids talk big dreams, lofty goals and possibly unattainable results for their future. The realist in me knows that only a few, very few will even get the opportunity to compete at a high level. But, how can you impose that realism on a young child's dream? And should I?

Recently, my children had an amazing opportunity to watch the South African Olympic swim team train prior to the 2016 Rio Summer Games.The team practiced at the same pool my kids train in every day. The opportunity to watch, listen (really gawk) at these accomplished athletes was amazing. These swimmers are some of the best athletes in their sport. While their accomplishments in the pool are well touted, their graciousness to the younger swimmers was even more impressive. A simple picture, a word of encouragement or just a smile meant more to those young swimmers than anyone could have imagined.

After watching these South African athletes, I hope that my kids take away one item. It's not the dedication in the pool, the years of sacrifice or the physical ability that these young men and women have. I want my children to remember that each and every athlete and coach from that South African was gracious.

Each and member of the South African delegation always said thank you for the words of encouragement as we walked passed them and wished them well in Rio. That these young people and coaches took a moment to take pictures with us. That the South African coach stopped my son and asked about his Springbok jersey, appreciated that my son answered him in the one word of Afrikaans that he knows and had a conversation with him about our trip to South Africa. Not a single person we interacted with had an ounce of ego (which is so rare in today's athletics). Yes, the passion that these young men and women have for their sport is great, but their passion to encourage others is more inspiring.

As the swimming events start today at the Rio Summer Games, our family will watch and cheer the wins that come down to the fraction of a second. We will cheer for Team USA and Team SA to achieve medals, world records or personal bests.

Even with all those once in a lifetime memories slated to happen in Rio, I remember a different story from the Rio Summer Games. I will think of a group of Olympic athletes that taught my children to be gracious. Those moments in a swim race are fleeting, but the impression that you leave on others will be carried with them for a lifetime.

Baie Dankie South African Swimming


  1. I totally agree with you! Long after the "green diving pools" are long forgotten I am believing that my kids will remember how they saw how to be gracious and how to be a great teammate and competitor. Hard to believe the games are already over!

  2. That is so cool that your kids got to watch them train! They will remember this forever and how athletes should act:)

  3. That is so amazing that you and your children met the swimmers in person. It is amazing to see and interact with professional athletes. Just to see how disciplined they are with their bodies and minds is awe inspiring. What a treat to see them train and watch them. That is the gift of a lifetime for your children. What great memories!!!

  4. Wow, what a lesson for your children to get to learn. I hope the same for them - that they remember to be gracious. It's so very cool that they got to swim with Olympic athletes.

  5. I love hearing stories like this. It's so nice that kids can see what a gracious and polite athletic role model looks like.

  6. How fun for your kids. We also enjoyed watching the games and I think all of the positive outweighs the little bit of bad that we've heard about any day.

  7. That is an amazing experience your children were able to have! I'm sure neither one of you will forget it!