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A team that looks like US

US Women's Gymnastic Team

The US women's gymnastic team has won the all around gold medal team competition. Simone Biles has won her fourth gold medal and is being called the greatest gymnast of our time and perhaps all time. All five of the team members continue to win additional gold, silver, and bronze medals. Read more here.

For the first time since 2004, there is a Hispanic woman on the team and there are two Black women as well. Finally - a gymnastic team that looks like us!

As of the 2010 census, 16% of the US population was Hispanic and 13% was Black or African American.

The image of what a gymnast looks like and what she can do has evolved in the last 60 years. Here is an astonishing comparison of what gymnastics looked like in the 50s and 60s and what it looks like now.

Building Confidence

Although only a few women become elite Olympic athletes, participating in sports builds strength and confidence for all of us. Have you grown your own confidence while playing sports? Here is more on my journey. Continued from this post.

Long's Peak

On my way to finding confidence, I hiked Long’s Peak, one of the highest mountains in Colorado at 14,255 feet. It takes 10-14 hours to hike it roundtrip. I planned the trip with my husband Joe and one other couple. Joe and I had been training for the climb and were in good shape, but the other couple was less prepared.

We had decided to make a full moon ascent in order to be on top of the peak by sunrise. We began about midnight and walked in the moonlight for five hours through the forest. It was the middle of summer, but still it was cold as we got higher.

Our group of four emerged from the trees into a particularly difficult area known as the “boulder field,” a wide-open area covered in rocks. It was dark and we moved slowly, trying to find a way among the huge stones.

Then we saw a group ahead of us, with a big lantern moving quickly and surely. We tried to keep pace, at first. But soon it was clear that our two, less well-trained companions were suffering. I could hear pained breathing from behind us. My husband, eager to reach the top before sunrise, increased his speed to keep pace with the group up ahead. Just at that moment, one of our friends, Janel, twisted her ankle. We stopped to rest and to determine whether she could continue. I remembered in that moment thinking that struggling to keep up when you are not prepared or able can lead to injury and anger.

Although she had twisted her ankle, she was able to walk. When Janel felt ready, I went to the front of the group with her and we set the pace for the rest of the hike - a slower, safer pace. We led the way through up and over the rocky passage known as the “Keyhole” and along the edge of a flat shelf with a drop-off below, all in the dark. As we reached the final section that required a climb up a smooth granite shoot, we were tired and shaky with the effort of hiking more than five hours. The sun began to rise and Janel and I made a final push, looking for hand holds, staying focused on the peak above, and not looking at the abyss below. We finally stood on top and I could see the pride, along with the exhaustion reflected in everyone’s face. Although we hadn’t made it to the top before sunrise, we had made it and we all felt a sense of accomplishment and relief.

In my book, Lessons from Nature, in Healing, Strength, and Flexibility (White Sand Lake Press, 2003) I wrote about the challenges of men and women in the outdoors together.

Often when I’m out hiking, I’ll encounter a group of people – men and women; sometimes just a couple. Almost always, the man is leading. He’s bigger and stronger and more determined to go fast. The woman invariably struggles along behind, trying to keep up; sometimes stubborn and determined not to give in. Quite often, the woman will finally exclaim "slow down!" and in that moment, perhaps vow never to hike again.

I’ve drawn the conclusion that if you are in nature to find enjoyment and peace, you will only find it at your own speed. It takes confidence to say “this is the right pace for me.” My own struggle to find confidence outdoors showed me that when a woman establishes a pace that feels comfortable to her, she can go much farther with greater enjoyment than one who is struggling to keep up. To be continued....

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