And in celebration of this awesome event, I wanted to start out with a female athlete that has inspired me: Dara Torres!
Just in case you guys have never heard about Dara Torres, she is a former competitive swimmer who is also a twelve-time Olympic medalist and a former world record-holder in three events (50-meter freestyle, 4x100-meter freestyle relay, and 4x100-meter medley relay).
But her medals and world records don't capture her whole story. There's more.
Torres has competed in five different olympics: 1984 Los Angeles, 1988 Seoul, 1992 Barcelona, 2000 Sydney, and 2008 Beijing. That's right. Five different Olympics over the span of twenty-four years.
She was 17 when she competed in her first ever Olympics and she took home a gold medal. She was 41 when she competed in her last one and took a silver medal home.
Her life was definitely something you would not call perfect. She was already the oldest member on the U.S. swim team at the age of 33 during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. She could not get pregnant at the age of 35. She was divorced twice by the age of 37. She had her first daughter at the age of 39. Her father also passed away that same year.
But as Torres put it perfectly,
"But when I was 41 and I woke up in a dorm in the Olympic Village in Beijing, I didn’t feel old. I felt merely—and, yes, happily—middle-aged. ‘The water doesn’t know how old you are.’"
For her, age was just merely a number and her dedication and passion for swimming gave her the courage to try out for the 2008 Summer Olympics despite the personal barriers she faced.
Torres wasn't quite finished though.
After the 2008 Olympics, she underwent a knee surgery, but jumped back in the pool as soon as she was ready to swim once again.
And she competed in the U.S. swimming trials to earn a spot on the 2012 London Olympics team for the 50-meter freestyle.
She however was denied a spot. Jessica Hardy won first place with 24.50 seconds and Kara Lynn Joyce took the remaining spot. Dara was nine-hundredths of a second behind her sixth Olympics. She was 45 at the time.
Even though she did not make it for the 2012 Olympics, she had no regrets, because she gave everything she had. She simply hugged her daughter, Tessa, and congratulated her fellow swimmers.
[Video: 2008 Beijing Olympics Women's 4x100 Freestyle Relay Final/Torres's Last Olympic Medal]
She has been such an inspiration for me and people all around the world. We sometimes put a limit on ourselves without even giving our best shot.
Torres however never, ever made any excuses and simply focused on achieving her goals.
I would like to end this card with my favorite Torres quote: