Head Held High

In the past year, I’ve dropped .5 seconds off my flying 200m, .9 seconds off my 500m, became a U.S. National Record Holder, U.S. National Champion in the 500m and the team sprint, and a 2x track record holder. I competed for the first time internationally at the Pan American Championships in Mexico City, and also for the first time in Europe and Canada. At my first push at UCI points, I finished with the world ranking of 12th in the keirin and 17th in the match sprint. I moved across the country, sold everything I could, and became an off campus resident at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

I put together a fundraiser, both online and in my hometown, to help support my efforts this year. With many individuals generosity, I raised $5,740.00. More than I imagined I would, and experience more support behind that money than I ever thought possible. I sent out hundreds of emails and letters working towards sponsorship, and had some amazing companies come on board to support me towards my dream. I thank each and every one of you, for your support and for keeping me going.

I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve succeeded, and I’ve failed. I’ve wanted to quit and give up. I’ve thrown my bike down in frustration, I’ve cursed and been pissed. But I never stopped. I always got back on my bike, did another effort, and gave it absolutely 100% every single day. Because of this, I’ve gone from being second-rate, to proving I can be the best. I’m not afraid to give it everything I have, and I’m not afraid to fail.

I’ve learned that not all help has good intentions. I’ve learned that it is in the heat of the moment that people’s true colors and motives appear. I’ve learned to save emails and revisit them frequently. I’ve learned that assumptions are one of the most dangerous things, and everyone has their own. I’ve learned the importance of taking control of my own future, and not letting someone else dictate it.  I’ve learned that many people talk, but few really listen. But I’ve also seen some of the greatest generosity, the kindest of hearts, and the most supportive strangers. I’ve experienced what it is like to achieve dreams, to dream big and make it happen, and work harder than ever before.

I look at the year I’ve had, and I am proud. I am proud of the generosity that was given to make these things happen. I am proud of my ability to stay strong and adapt. I am proud of my accomplishments and what came with them. I am proud to represent my sponsors, the citizens of my hometown, and the state of Minnesota. I am proud to represent the USA internationally, when I am given the opportunity. And I am proud to give my national champion jersey to those most deserving of them.

I did not meet the international race time standard, and I am not the current match sprint or keirin national champion. I will not be representing the USA at any world cups this year. But I am damn proud of what I’ve done. That will not be tarnished.

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