Olympic Triathlete Susan Williams

 Olympic triathlete Susan Williams

Olympic triathlete Susan Williams

Have you ever wondered what it really takes to become an Olympian? I just finished interviewing Bronze Medal Olympic Triathlete Susan Williams and came away with some impacting thoughts.

We talked a lot about family, something very important to her, and her Olympic journey.

Here were some of the things that stood out to me.

When she was 15, her swim coach brought his black and white TV to their practices during the 1984 Los Angeles Games. When a swim event came on, he would pull the team out of the pool to watch. In those moments, huddled around the TV dripping wet, that Susan’s Olympic dream was born. She knew she wanted to represent the USA swimming in the Olympics.

She swam in college, but because of circumstances and coaching philosophies that didn't necessarily set her up for success she was certain her swim career was over when she graduated. To stay in shape when swimming ended, she began running. She had studied engineering and was pursuing becoming an astronaut, so her attention was focused in that direction.

Olympic Triathlete?

As it often does, though, fate intervened. When she moved to Boulder, CO, to pursue graduate school in fulfillment of her dream as an astronaut, she discovered the joys of biking, as well as the heaven that trail running in Colorado is.

Since she already had the background in swimming and was becoming adept at riding the bike and running, she competed in a triathlon. She did well enough that she did another and when she did even better she knew she had something special going on. When triathlon was made an Olympic event, she had a new vision.

Twenty (yes 20!) years after her original Olympic dream was born, at the age of 35, she competed as an Olympic triathlete. Although she tells people not to give up on their dreams since hers took 20 years, she admits that between the time she finished swimming in college and her first triathlon her Olympic dream wasn’t alive.

She talked candidly about her faith and her journey there.

And best of all, she shared how her family helped her get to her Olympic destination, including lots of help from her husband, mother, and coaches, and a heaping dose of motivation from her young daughter, with whom she became pregnant just before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

Her answers and perspectives on life are very similar to Peter Vidmar, whose story I’ll be sharing soon. Both talked about the importance of family to them and how life is about helping other people.

They both are also very realistic about what it takes to become an Olympian, namely talent and hard work.

If you are talented but don’t work, you won’t get there and if you work hard but it’s not in the deck of cards, you won’t get there.

Susan had talent and an insatiable desire to challenge herself, to push her limits and to succeed.

Looks like she did just that and is now trying to make sure she wins at being a wife and mother.

You can learn more about her and how she’s coaching and training others to succeed at her website www.teamemc.com.

As with the other Olympian interviews, I'll be posting an MP3 of the interview to iTunes in the coming months. If you want updates, just sign up below.