For all those fighting the good fight let me share my story of overcoming one of the greatest adversities I’ve ever endured: coming back from a spinal injury that very nearly ended my skiing career. Less than two years after this challenging injury, I went on to win America’s first gold medal in the sport.
Continued from last week’s blog entitled "Fighting the Fight to Win Olympic Gold Part I"
As the months progressed, none of the pain subsided. In fact, despite numerous doctors’ visits and countless exercises and procedures, the only thing I was losing was hope. After months of lying on a mattress in my living room, I started to doubt if I would ever come back from this injury. In addition to my physical and mental state, my relationships were starting to crumble. I was snapping at my parents, my friends stopped coming by, and my boyfriend and I were constantly fighting. No one wanted to be around a depressed individual.
The truth was, no one was going to pry me out of my depression until I somehow faced it myself.
The man who forced me to face it was someone I didn’t know, and who didn’t know me. I was flipping through a magazine one day and saw a picture of Joe Frazier, a legendary boxer who won a gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The caption under his picture revealed something many people don’t know: that Joe had won his gold medal with a broken wrist. I figured this man needed his wrist for boxing as much as I needed my back for jumping. If he could come back from his injury, why couldn’t I come back from mine?
Around the same time I came across the picture of Joe, I also stumbled upon an old, familiar poem. I was rifling through a draw and found a little orange card that I had wrapped Scotch tape around many years before. It was the poem “You Mustn’t Quit,” the one given to me by my role model, Cassandra Wheeler, when I was a young, struggling gymnast. I reread the poem, hoping it would offer me the same wisdom it had fifteen years earlier:
YOU MUSTN’T QUIT
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,