Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Improbable

I saw something amazing today, and though it was related to Tiger Woods, it wasn't just because he lost for the first time after holding the lead heading the final round. Make no mistake, Tiger Woods is one of the most dominant and formidable champions of not just our time, but of all-time.

What was so amazing was the person who beat him. Y.E. Yang became the first Asian-born golfer to EVER win a major golf championship. And he beat the greatest golfer of all-time to do it. He beat him doing something which was deemed impossible, beating Tiger on the final day when he started with the lead. Brilliant, that's the best words I can describe.

I like Tiger. He has taught sport so much about the power of the mind. But I always like to see an unlikely challenger, a David, to come out and challenge Goliath. I've been there, as the David, and it's something I continue to find a strong emotional connection with.

I mentioned a few posts back watching Tin Cup, and how that movie provided a great quote. When a reporter asked Kevin Costner if he knew how low the odds or probability was of a shot he attempted which cost him the championship, he said basically, "Do you think I'd even be here if I cared about the odds?" I again find myself going back to it, in many facets of my life.

I was born an adopted child, who the doctors initially thought wouldn't live past 18, due to complications at birth. Later, doctors told my parents I would never qualify for the military, due to some of these complications. It was as though my physical abilities were not going to be good enough.

I was considered a troubled child while growing up with ADHD, and plenty of other issues and problems, and yet I have reached some of the pinnacles of the sports of running, cycling and triathlon. I was a bench rider in high school for football, and cut from the basketball team. It wasn't until the urging from my dad that I tried distance running at the end of my sophomore year. Three All-State finishes later, I walked on at Nebraska, and later earned a full-scholarship. I was a part of a program which won a number of Big 12 Championships, an NCAA runner-up in track, was a roommate of an Olympic Semi-Finalist in the 1500, and competed in the NCAA Championships. I graduated and became a school teacher and coach. Talk about improbable.

I left teaching about 5-6 years later because my passion was to be involved in the sport and make my living from my passions. I now successfully make a living off my passions and knowledge. When I think about it, it's rather improbable that I ever reached anywhere close to what I have.

It's been an amazingly long road, with an incredible amount of hard work. Many hours, days, weeks, months and years spent focusing on training and performance. Just as many studying to learn the things which provided me to where I am now. How many sacrifices I made, I could never fathom or even count.

I may not be THE best at anything, but does that really matter? Isn't being the best more about doing everything you can do to do your best? Isn't it about overcoming insurmountable odds?

Is Y.E. Yang the best in the world? Maybe for a day. Well, maybe until the next tournament. I don't know. But what I do know, is what I felt when I watched him sink that final putt, yell in glory, raise his entire golf bag in the air, and sob as he embraced his wife. I couldn't help but shed a tear, and know what his sacrifice was like, what odds were stacked against him. I'd be lying if I said I knew who he was before the tournament started, but when I saw him and his emotion, I felt like I knew much more about him than I ever expected to.


No comments: