Inspired by Greg Strom’s Podcast, “The Extra Mile” (http://themilethatmatters.podbean.com/e/the-mile-that-matters-podcast-1-the-extra-mile/), I was immediately reminded of a young man that influences me. In sharing his story, you may have heard of his accomplishments, but may not realize The Extra Mile he journeyed with his father.
An only child, the young man’s dad migrated from Japan to the United States at the age of 18, settling in the Northwest. Arriving in a country of endless opportunity, the dad thought he would be an accountant, but later decided to become a hair dresser. He became a celebrated hair dresser and was invited to many parties and red carpet events. Even with his renowned status, the dad struggled learning the English language.
The young man’s parents divorced when he was an infant and he has had little contact with his mother. Finding it difficult to raise a child without a mom, and often working 12-hour days, the dad enrolled his son in many activities. At the age of 6, he was involved in competitive swimming and quad-speed roller skating. During his middle school years, the young man began hanging out with high school Juniors and Seniors. These “street gang” kids stole cars and did drugs. The young man never really participated; just hung-out.
At the age of 12, he was the state champion swimmer in the 100m breaststroke and later became the national champion in-line skater. After viewing short track speed skating during the Winter Olympics, he became quite interested. Capitalizing on his interest, the Dad began driving him to competitions throughout the US and Canada.
Believing in his son, he got him admitted to the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center. However, when his dad dropped him off at the airport to send him to camp, the young man waited until his dad left, called a friend, and asked his friend to pick him up. It was several weeks before his dad realized what he had done.
Never giving up on in his son, the two traveled across country to the training center. While at camp he found his passion.
A few years later, exhausted from training and competition he takes a 3-month break, does not exercise and eats junk food. He participates in the qualifying Olympic time trials. Failing to qualify, his dad tells him he has to make a decision. The journey is now his.
Returning to the training center, his teammates nicknamed him “Chunky”, which motivated him to train harder. Today, Apolo Ohno still holds the record for the most medals in Short-track Speed Skating and is one of the most celebrated US Olympiads ever. His father is still his biggest supporter.
I have never met Apolo Ohno and his Dad, but intend to. Their story is one that resonates on many levels. Imagine the result if a Dad did not go The Extra Mile and did not show his son the benefits of journeying that extra mile.
bart is a nationally known, sought-after motivational speaker, author, blogger, personal coach, trainer, entrepreneur, and major advocate of the theatre community.
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