Track & Field News got this inspiring piece as an e-mail from a veteran thrower—who once “made the team” but didn’t—who decided that if Eugene was going to be his last hurrah, it would be this year’s version, not ’08, as he had thought at the time. His story:
Less than 1 year ago I was slightly out of shape….. who am I kidding, I was fat. It had been almost three years since I had retired from my career as an Olympic Hammer thrower.
In those three years, I had not stepped one foot into a gym and my bike was safely covered in dust hanging from the rafters in my attic. On occasion, I though back to my days as a Hammer thrower but I had a new life now running a fledgling custom cabinetry shop.
One morning last September my life was turned upside down and I found myself questioning what I was doing with my time here on earth.
While driving to work one beautiful September morning, an older women lost control of her car, crossed the center divide and struck me head on. Both of us were traveling at approx. 50mph and I had almost no time to react before the moment of impact. The instant before we collided the only thing that I could think was “Well I guess this is it”.
I came to with my Truck in a ditch, the air bag in my face, and the incredible realization that I was alive. At that point, I wasn’t worried about any injuries that I had sustained I was just amazed that I had made it and was still here.
I sat motionless in my Truck for several minutes before I decided to get brave and see what sort of injuries I was going to be dealing with. I checked my legs, they both moved just fine. I checked my arms, no problems there either.
As I continued to check all of my body parts, I came to the conclusion that I was probably OK and just might walk away from this accident. By that time the Fireman, Paramedics, and Police had all arrived at the scene and began to take control of the situation.
I told the fireman that I was fairly sure I was fine and wanted to get out of the Truck. As I exited my Truck, I could now see the devastation of the accident. My Truck was obviously a total loss, but the other driver’s car was considerably worse.
Shortly after I was able to get out of my car and regain my bearings, a helicopter was flown in to transport the driver of the other car who was critically injured in the accident.
In the days following the accident, I began to reassess what I was doing with my life. It was obvious to me that I had some unfinished business regarding my Olympic Dream.
In 2004, I had finished in 3rd place at the US Olympic Team Trials and technically qualified for the Olympic Team. I say “technically” because even though I had finished in the top three I had not thrown far enough during that season to earn the right to compete at the Olympic Games.
In 2008, I finished in 4th place at the US Olympic Team Trials – remember only the Top 3 finishers make the Olympic Team. I came to the conclusion that I needed one more chance at the Olympic Dream and so began my 9-month journey to today.
This morning I boarded a flight to Portland, Oregon, at 8:25am and give this Olympic Dream one more chance.
Looking back now, I am amazed at what I have been able to accomplish in just 9 months of limited training. Don’t forget, I still have my custom cabinetry business to run and let’s just say the economy hasn’t been a big help.
I have managed to leave work a few hours early on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to do my throwing workouts and have been lifting weights on Tuesday and Thursday evenings after work.
This training schedule has been extremely difficult and has seriously tested my desire to compete in one more Olympic Trials. All of the work is done now and it’s time to see what this 37-year-old body has left.
Nine months ago, for one brief instant, I had resigned myself to the fact that my life was about to end. As I write this letter, I can say with absolute certainty that I am living my life and am thankful for every day I have here on earth.
Thanks to all of my family and friends who have supported me in this journey and I hope I can add a little inspiration to your lives. My parents have a sign in their house that says “if you’re lucky enough to have a house by the lake, you’re lucky enough”. This is how I feel about everyone out there chasing a dream. If you’re enough to be chasing a dream, you’re lucky enough.