I know health awareness and participation in sports peak during the Olympics, but sometimes something else happens. People see opportunities they never knew existed. More importantly little people, eyes wide at the splendor they’re seeing on their TV screens, can be inspired. Seeds of dreams can be planted waiting to be tended into gold medal chasing gardens.
I was at the grocery store yesterday. When I went to check out, there was a college girl at the cashier using her debit card for the first time and getting money back. So we had a little time. Ahead of me was a mom and a little boy.
I’m 5’3 and the little boy barely came to my hip. He wore his brown swim trunks and swim goggles over his wet dark hair. That was it. He was being very good with the delay. Since we had some time, he looked up at me.
“I’m going to be the next Michael Phelps,” he informed me.
“Really? Sounds good,” I started unloading my cart. “What event are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking the Butterfly. Not this next Olympics. The one after that,” he clarified. His mom was up to the cashier.
“Yeah.” Their order was wrong out and paid for.
“What’s your name?” He paused, deciding between stranger danger and wrangling a potential sponsor.
“I’ll look forward to seeing you.”
“Okay,” he smiled and joined his mom. She smiled. What I liked was she didn’t roll her eyes or thank me for humoring him. She beamed almost as much as he did. She was glad he was in the pool, doing something, or had a dream. They hadn’t discussed this may not be realistic or what it means to become Olympian. They may have discussed he might not be old enough to qualify for this next Olympics, but the one after that he would be old enough.
As I paid for my groceries, I watched the future conqueror of Men’s 200M Butterfly walk out through the sliding doors. He reached up to take his mom’s hand because they were going to go through the parking lot. That’d be the image for the PG commercials, for the “thanks mom” spots. “You held my hand in so many ways,” he’d say. Even when he’s 6’8 and on the podium after setting the new world record, dethroning his idols, she’d see the little brown trunks, his first pair of goggles, and that first evening when he went from complete captivation to turn to her and say, “I want to do that.”
Best of luck, Trevor (and mom).