Idaho Olympian sends golden message
Once again, the University of Idaho made an impact in the world of sports when Vandal alum Kristin Armstrong struck gold at the London Olympics, winning the women’s cycling time trial for the second time.
While winning an Olympic gold medal is inspiring in any case, Armstrong’s win is especially inspiring considering her age and life story.
Mike Iupati, Jerry Kramer and Dan O’Brien are just a few Vandals who have become household names in their respective sports, and Armstrong certainly belongs on that list after winning two time trial world championships and two Olympic gold medals. Unlike the others, Armstrong had to deal with a number of obstacles to achieve her dreams.
After winning a gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Armstrong decided to retire with hopes of starting a family, but after giving birth to her son she decided to make a comeback and take one last shot at Olympic glory. She had to retrain her body after childbirth and adjust her workout schedule. After months of work, she found her way back to the Olympics at age 39.
Thirty-nine years old seems like an impossible age to be an Olympian, especially in a sport as physically demanding as cycling. It’s amazing when it’s put into perspective with the ages of other Olympians. The youngest U.S. Olympian in London was 15-year-old swimmer Katie Ledecky. The oldest member of the US gymnastics team is 18. Armstrong definitely stands out on an Olympic roster filled with participants who are still in high school.
Just 22 months after giving birth, Armstrong was standing on the podium in London, watching the U.S. flag hoisted above her head while the Star Spangled Banner played. While it’s a great story on its own, Armstrong’s journey holds a lesson that everyone should grab on to.
Armstrong proved that despite age, odds or circumstances, dreams can come true. Most people wouldn’t have thought that a 39-year-old mother would be able to make a comeback and capture Olympic gold for the second time. She was able to turn back the clock for one race and achieve a dream.
Armstrong should serve as an inspiration to us all in that whatever dreams we’re chasing, we have the power to make them come true if we’re willing to put in the work and make sacrifices. Dreams are never fulfilled by staying idle, but by making a decision and sticking to it. Olympic gold may not be the dream, or maybe so, but whatever it is, it’s possible.
Armstrong’s victory in London not only impacts her own life but others’ as well. Her son will always be able to look at his mother and see the embodiment of a fulfilled dream. So keep dreaming and keep working. If a 39-year-old can win an Olympic gold, nothing is out of the question.
Kevin Bingaman can be reached at email@example.com