OPINION: In support of today’s and tomorrow’s Olympic and Paralympic dreamers

Opinion_Gale_Horton_GayDuring recent weekends when Georgians’ hearts and minds were hinged on the outcome of national and college football competitions and the upcoming Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4, my mind had shifted to focusing on sports I rarely think about, except every four years.

I was learning the names, backgrounds, triumphant moments and heartbreak experiences of ice skaters, skiers, lugers, snowboarders, curlers and many other athletes who will be competing in the 2018 Olympic Games.

The 52nd Olympic Winter Games take place Feb. 9-25 in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Thousands of the top athletes from 94 nations are expected to compete for medals in 102 events in 15 sports. Those games are followed by the XII Paralympic Winter Games, also in Pyeongchang March 9-18.
As many of these athletes were giving their all attempting to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team, I was once again captivated by their strength, determination, speed and in some cases artistry.

Many have overcome injuries, physical limitations, emotional and economic challenges to make their teams. For some politics and other issues may have been impediments in their paths but somehow they pressed on.

I was reminded of young people in our own backyards whose names and personal stories we are unaware of but who are currently making sacrifices, doing the hard work of learning, practicing and molding themselves into what may one day be recognized as top-tier athletes.

So as we prepare to watch the hundreds of members of the U.S. Olympic team go for the gold, silver and bronze in February, let’s remember to give support and encouragement to the next generation of stars who are in the infancy of their development. The sky is the limit for so many of them and by attending their games and competitions, offering words of encouragement, cheering them on as well as contributing financially, we can show our support in meaningful ways.

This winter belongs to those who already have labored hard and long, believed in themselves and persevered through adversity, but the seasons to come belong to the kids who are just beginning to dream big. We can each play a part in helping those dreams come true.

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