Good As Gold - By Mike Lynch
Can you imagine your entire athletic life coming down to a mere 75 seconds? One minute, fifteen seconds to define you, validate your commitment and send an entire nation into delirium. That's what it amounted to for Needham's Aly Raisman in the team gymnastics final in London.
She was the final performer of the competition. All eyes were on her and she stood ten feet tall at the moment of truth. She nailed it and sealed the first gold medal for USA women's gymnastics on foreign soil. Aly had one shot. This wasn't a best of seven, she didn't have another at bat, there wasn't any overtime or extra innings, there wasn't a back nine. One moment to shine, a moment that began to build since her mother enrolled her in a "mommy and me" gymnastics program when she was two years old.
Steve Penney, President of USA Gymnastics said it best when the team was headed for London, "she is the backbone of this group of girls." Aly was named captain of this quintet, an honor only topped by being selected for the Olympic squad itself.
"I couldn't even breathe, I am so honored and excited," beamed Aly when she learned she was London bound.
Aly remembered sitting in Maine, on vacation in the summer of 2008 and watching the games from Beijing. Right there she told herself that she wanted to make the team and bring home the gold. Now she will share it with her friends and neighbors in Needham. Aly could have grown up in Reading, Andover or Waltham and we still could have identified with her. She is the Mike Eruzione and the Nancy Kerrigan of her generation. She knew what she wanted and made the sacrifices to ensure she never was detoured from success. Aly went to her senior prom this spring but had to skip the after prom party on the Cape because she was in training.
As a former coach used to say "sacrifice plus sweat equals success." There's an Aly Raisman in many young athletes in every sport. She's the girl in the neighborhood, seen about town, smiling and hanging out with her friends. Inside is an eternal flame of drive and moxie that burns 24/7 and is never extinguished until the quest is complete.
Is there an Aly Raisman burning inside of you?