Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Next Greatest Generation; Olympics; Children Will Notice the Great Achievements We're Witnessing This Summer; OTHER VIEWS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Next Greatest Generation; Olympics; Children Will Notice the Great Achievements We're Witnessing This Summer; OTHER VIEWS

Article excerpt

Every four years, the Summer Olympics are among the highlights of my summer. These games have been particularly poignant to me while preparing to go back to school as a teacher in the Lee's Summit public schools. Many of the athletes competing in these games are teenagers - young enough to be in my classroom. What's more, a number of teenagers are earning bronze, silver and gold medals on the biggest international stage. What makes these world-class athletes any different from the kids in our community? The answer: not much.

While these adolescents may have reached super-star status, they are not actually super-human. When interviewed, they consistently credit their successes to goal setting, years of hard work and an ability to focus in high-pressure situations. But their achievements do not exist in a vacuum; each athlete has parents, coaches and role models who support and inspire him or her to go beyond what they thought was possible. Perhaps the most poignant commercial during these games concerns greatness which has little to do with superior genes, rather "greatness is no more unique to us than breathing - we're all capable of it."

The personal narratives leading up to the Olympics can be as inspiring as the athletic achievements themselves. The athletes' stories and challenges can be paralleled to those of children right here in our community: a boy named Michael Phelps who struggled with attention deficit disorder was able to spend hours in the pool and went on to be among the most dominant athletes in history; teenager Missy Franklin hoped her swimming performances would bring some joy to her classmates in Aurora, Colo., after unspeakable tragedy; Gabby Douglas and her family took major personal risks to help her chase a gymnastic dream; Kayla Harrison overcame abuse by a trusted adult to become the first American woman gold medalist in judo. …

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