Everybody loves a winner! The world showers gold and praise on those who come in first. Even the runner up receives silver and sponsorship deals. And we still cheer and bestow bronze on those who come in third. What then is left for fourth place?
During my Paralympic swimming career, I had the pleasure and honor of winning gold, silver and bronze. But I also came in fourth numerous times. In our world, outside the rarefied air of the medal podium, the remaining warriors walk away empty handed. They have the knowledge and satisfaction of being near the peak. Having tried their best they also take pride in knowing that out of seven billion people on the planet, they are still in the lead.
The 2022 Beijing Olympic and Paralympic Games will honor as many gold medalists as there will be those in fourth place. And there will be hundreds of athletes going home without any precious metals at all. But I salute all athletes who have trained and tried! The personal journey through internal and external limitations galvanizes us for the rest of our lives.