Two of my biggest mentors in sport are Simon Whitfield and Adam van Koeverden. They have 6 Olympic medals between the two of them, along with countless other incredible achievements. Adam wrote the forward for Simon’s book: Simon Says Gold. In it, he coins the phrase “reciprocal inspiration”, and describes it as this:
“When one person’s accomplishments live on and encourage more people to believe in themselves and accomplish their own goals. As I see it, there are three incredible features of this phenomenon: it doesn’t expire, it can be shared among an unlimited number of people and it has the capacity to cross genres and disciplines”.
Simon was inspired watching the men’s 8 crew win gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and soon after won a silver medal in triathlon. Adam was inspired watching Simon's thrilling sprint to a silver medal, and went on to win a medal in kayaking. Reciprocal inspiration.
I’ve been thinking lots about this idea during the past 2 weeks as the Canadian team competed in Sochi. Watching sports that I can’t necessarily relate to. Bobsledding, figure skating and ski jumping have few similarities to triathlon. However, we share a common goal in achieving the Olympic dream, pushing ourselves to the limit, and ultimately being the best in the world at something. I feed off of the success and determination of others, especially when I’m feeling tired, slow, or unmotivated. Training beside an Olympian, watching someone win an Olympic medal, hearing about someone's epic training session - those things fuel me.
The definition of reciprocal is “given by each side”. I only hope that some day I can return my end of the deal, inspiring others as much as I draw inspiration from all of these superstars.
Bravo winter Olympians. The Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Denny Morrison, Alex Bilodeau, Roz Groenewoud, both hockey teams… there are way too many to name. I look up to you and you were incredible to watch. Thanks for fueling my fire.