February 11, 2022

The Feel-good Olympic Story we all Needed.

 

The Olympics are hard to describe in words.

They represent our humanity, world politics at the time, and lifelong dreams coming to fruition before our very eyes—in real-time, these days. Several years ago, I wrote an article about how the Olympics make me cry. They still do; nothing has changed. They’re usually tears of joy, and empathy, and pride. And the story of Donovan Carrillo is the perfect example of why I get a little misty each time the world comes together in these games.

Donovan is a figure skater from Mexico.

Read that again: he is a figure skater. From Mexico. He has persevered, fighting for his dream to compete for his country in the Olympic Games despite the questions, doubts, and hardships.

He is the first Mexican figure skater to make it to The Olympics in 30 years. Not only that, this amazing young man did it by training in a public skating rink in a shopping mall. He maintained his art and his sport and his skills while answering questions about where the bathroom was located inside the mall. As a former figure skater myself, I know from deep in my soul that the only thing that could keep him performing at such an elite level in those circumstances is love.

Love of the sport. Love of the sound skates makes as they dig into the ice. Love of the adrenaline rush after you land a jump. Love of the feel of the wind as you cross the ice and love of the sensation of spinning with complete control. And, not least, love of country.

Fittingly, Donovan Carrillo’s performances weren’t perfect but they were joyful. They were full of love, and it was impossible not to notice.

I didn’t stop smiling the entire time he was skating. Sure, Nathan Chen is an artist and the best in the world. But Donovan might be my favorite dark horse, and his feel-good story of success in the face of adversity is the Olympic story we all need to eat up. He wore his heart on his sleeve, enjoying every moment. What a lesson for us all to take into our everyday.

Watch him perform his short program and I dare you not to smile when you see his face at the end.

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