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A great deal of recognition took place in the sports world during the last month, February 2018. Many of us were following the outcomes of the Olympic Games as world class athletes competed for a shot at the gold, silver and bronze medals. (Check here, Olympic Results for the results of contests you might have missed.)

These coveted symbols of recognition are the high points of years of training and the personal stories of the athletes tell of their struggles and sacrifices on the way.

Reviewing some of those stories is a bit addicting – these athletes are real people, often from ordinary backgrounds. However, the effort they put into their sport is always extraordinary. Many of them are students, some are parents, many are working to support themselves and their training. These are demands in addition to the hours they spend at their sport. The extensive physical strain on their bodies is always a concern, and it’s rare not to have sustained injuries. Some, like bronze medalist Lindsey Vonn express sadness at having competed for the last time. As she put it “I don’t know if my body could take another four years of this kind of training. I worked so hard.”  Her story and others can be found here.

From Great Britain, another inspiring athlete, Lizzy Yarnold, amazed us with her performance in the skeleton run. Doesn’t that make you want to know why it’s called skeleton, and how a woman finds herself training for it and winning a gold medal? Click here to read about Great Britain’s surprising sweep.

Their stories have differences, but most Olympians started in childhood with small successes. They had fun, they discovered talents, they were inspired by mentors and teachers and parents, and they persisted. Very few will be able to make a life long career out of their sport, but all will create life long memories so it is only fitting that they have that moment as a medalist in the premiere sports competition of the world.

Hats off to Olympians, to all who competed, and especially those top contenders.

Another competitor in February, Apple Award’s own Claire Smith, skied the Korteloppet in Hayward, Wisconsin. Claire came in 223rd in a field of 1,276 skiiers. She was 57th place in her gender and 17th place in her age group. She did an impressive time of 2:02:42:1. Family and friends are so proud of her!  This 29 k cross country ski contest is part of the Birkiebeiner weekend, an international event.

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