From my youngest years, I recall spending time with my family in front of the television watching professional ice skating competitions on ABC Sports. The grace and strength required to be a great figure skater is something few have the ability to combine.
I saw an article that was written in November 2015 regarding , the first black to ever win an Olympic ice skating medal, fall from grace. She did indeed become an orthopedic surgeon, after her Olympic win. However, she had a difficult time dealing with the conventional medical system. She became a doctor to help people heal, yet, she found that to be difficult to impossible to do. She noted that she has a mood disorder which may have allowed her to achieve the incredible things that she has. However, there was a bleak side, divorced from her second husband, while her son’s father was given custody of him. Mean while she is living with a recovering alcoholic and his two children in a broken down trailer in Virginia. She says she wants to bring health care to the poor who deserve it. I can understand how she feels, given the college kids that I have had the opportunity to help whose parents didn’t have the funds to help them with payment – they self paid for their service with me. To date all of them are doing extremely well having the guts to confront their issues head on, allowing them to get their college educations and into their chosen professions.
Nicole Bobec, another Olympian apparently got involved in drugs, crystal meth in her case, and was arrested for being part of a drug ring. She has turned her life around, bringing some sense of responsibility to the occasion. Her main message is to be a role model to anyone who may have fallen. They too can get up and do well in life. She expresses the thought that no one need be perfect. However, one needs to take responsibility for one’s choices and make better choices moving forward.
Tai Babilonia, turned professional at age 20. She said that alcoholism was the battle she had to overcome. Without parents or coaches around to help guide her, she went to the alcohol to help her to get through the night’s show. Because, when one is an amateur there are three times a year one has to turn in their best. Once one is a professional, it is a non-stop schedule of shows, and that became a bit too much for Tai to deal with at such a tender age. These days she’s involved in “The Teen Project” which gives 100 substance abusing girls a refuge who have aged out of the foster care system.
There are also those who have been very successful and moved on with their lives such as Katerina Witt who became a broadcaster for the ice competitions and was a professional skater putting on shows with Brian Boitano. There is Surya Bonaly who was determined to be the first woman to land a quad toe loop and did so. She was also the only female to do a back flip on the ice and land on one foot. At the age of 41 she is still skating and doing ice shows.
Michelle Kwan also a multiple Olympian with great grace and athleticism had done with her life after skating. She is currently working for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, having met her while she worked at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs after earning a masters degree from Tufts University in law and diplomacy.
Dorothy Hamill won the Olympic gold in 1976. She was treated for breast cancer in 2008 and now is a spokesperson to raise awareness about it.
So, for those of us who haven’t been shining stars out there in the world of athletics, or anywhere else, just mere mortals, looking up to some incredible talent over the years, we can be humbled by the fact that people are just people after all. Some are able to deal with the pressures life brings them better than others. However, the one thing that is most notable is that regardless of the decent fallen, those who have battled their way to the top, somehow figure out a way to climb out, a bit more humbled for their experience. I believe that is a learning that we can all learn from.
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