I have been glued to the TV, certain to watch the US Olympic Women Gymnasts — their individual greatness and the greatness of their team!
Never before have I seen such consistent feats, so expertly executed, with such an unprecedented level of confidence and mutual support.
These women, several who are still girls and range in age from 16 to 22, exhibited strength of spirit, friendship and love that won the hearts of the world. They have trained for most of their lives with huge commitments of time and energy, navigating their successes and disappointments to get to this pinnacle. I can’t imagine the degree of dedication it took to become the champions they are, and at such a young age. In an interview following their floor exercise victories, Simone and Aly spoke excitedly of eating hamburgers, French fries and pizza as one of their first activities now that competition is over.
Yes, their athletic accomplishments are awesome! What is equally impressive to me is their level of maturity! Even in their most intense competitions, with their deepest longings for gold medals, each had the grace to be authentically happy for their teammates who sometimes defeated them. After a disappointing performance on the balance beam Simone Biles was defeated by Laurie Hernandez, but was still happy for Laurie and the team. Despite a magnificent performance in Rio, Aly Raisman, gold medalist in the floor exercise four years ago in London, lost to Simone. With respect and admiration for excellence exceeding concern for her personal accomplishment, Aly put her arms around Simone, smiling and excited. They happily walked off the floor together hand in hand, fist-pumping, proud that their team had won gold and silver!
Through their devotion to their skills, their magnificent routines, personal relationships and team, they showed the world the message I have conveyed in Soul Selfish — when grounded in soul, love of self, love for others and love of community happens simultaneously. We were watching the triumph of soul over ego!
There is no doubt that each fiercely wanted to be win gold in the events in which they participated, and did everything possible to achieve that. Competitions important enough to train for years to even qualify, became a win-win for the team, rather than a win-lose between teammates. They all recognized that the strong bond of the team supported each individual’s performance.
These young women are not only awesome athletes, they are awesome in their hearts! I would love to know their retiring coach, Márta Károlyi, who was able to nourish their physical and emotional development to this level, while also inspiring the spiritual experience that will live within them forever.