They asked him at his first press conference following his Olympic Gold why he became a hurdle runner. He simply replied with a story: “when I was young, my father wanted to make me strong, to imbue in my head that life would be difficult at times, that hurdles and obstacles would be thrown my way. People would tell me that I couldn’t surpass them. That I was not good enough. But I should not believe them. I should do my best and jump over all of them. When I first saw track events, I felt an instant connection with the hurdles. Perhaps because I took my father’s words literally at the time,” he laughed. So did the reporters.
But a small girl did not. She raised her hand to ask another question. “Does jumping these hurdles make those in real life disappear?”
The room fell silent. The athlete was dumbfounded. It was perhaps the most difficult question he ever had to answer.
“To be honest, no,” he said. “The hurdles in real life never truly disappear. But jumping these hurdles on the track has given me the determination, the strength, the discipline, and the courage needed to be able to surpass life’s obstacles. I think I have been quite successful in life so far. But the key is never to give up. And never believe that you are not good enough or are not worth everything you dream of”.
The girl smiled and her cheeks turned rosy. The athlete had just made his impact on her. And that was enough.
“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere” – Frank A. Clark