The P&G Olympics campaign “Thank you, Mom” has it wrong. This should not only be a tribute to the mothers OF Olympic athletes, it should be a tribute to the mothers who ARE Olympic athletes.
13 women on the US Olympic team are mothers of young children. Among them Christie Rampone, Kristin Armstrong, Kerri Walsh, and Kara Goucher.
And Nur Suryani Mohamad Taibi from Malaysian trumped them all by competing 34 weeks pregnant.
These women have realized that becoming mothers has made them better athletes and that lessons from sports have made them better mothers. In the process they are redefining society’s view of women, of motherhood — and with many of them flirting with 40 – of aging. Thank you, moms!
“Take away the medals and what's an athlete? Someone striving for a goal,”
— gold medalist, mother of three Alexandra Powe Allred
London is just a reflection of what is happening at start lines across the world. Women – especially in their late 30’s 40’s and 50’s — are rocking endurance sports.
Women are 60% of half-marathon participants
Women buy 80% of the sports apparel.
Forget meta-trends. If you are an athlete like me, you know your sport is your source of energy, confidence, and often sanity. It’s the secret weapon we use to kick-butt on the job, power-up to parent, and fuel change in our communities.
And “secret” is the operative word. We’ll all describe ourselves by our family status and profession – mom, wife, lawyer, product manager, artist. But only a minority of us will declare:
I AM a runner.
I AM a triathlete.
I AM AN ATHLETE!
Why don’t we OWN it? I’ve heard every possible reason:
I don’t look like athlete.
I’m not fast enough.
I just do it for myself. I actually feel it’s a little selfish.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. — Marianne Williamson
‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”–
Here is the type of power I’ve seen unleashed – and dreams achieved — when women stand up and own I AM AN ATHLETE.
Help yourself:I just heard from a runner who was embarrassed because she came in dead last in her first race. Others celebrated her as the leader of everyone who never made it off the couch. No doubt she’ll achieve her goal of doing better in her 2nd race – because that support will get her to her 2nd start line.
Inspire others: The most common goal I’ve heard from female athletes is “bring a friend into the sport.” Swim Bike Mom, a popular triathlon blogger and soon to be author (her dream!) has inspired thousands of every-women to take the first step on a triathlon journey. One of her readers shared a picture in hopes that it would go viral.
Close the Gender Gap: I was fed up with sports training watches that hurt my wrist and required a manual to use, so I developed Bia, the first GPS sports watch built around female needs. When we hit the wall on bootstrapping, we turned to traditional investors. When they doubted our market, we turned to crowd funding. We raised over $400K from over 2000 supporters. Most of them are female athletes fed up with existing products and fired up to make a female-founded company successful. All of them made our dream their dream too.
Change the World: Afghani runner Tahmina Kohistani endured taunts and fear as she trained for the 100m. Instead of shying away from the pain or giving up because she was likely to come in last, she competed in London and will come home to start a running program for Afghani girls.
None of these outcomes seem selfish. None of them required a first place finish. All they required is leading with I AM AN ATHLETE and applying that athlete attitude to everyday life.
Cheryl Kellond is a triathlete, mother of four and former Silicon Valley tech exec turned entrepreneur. Frustrated with existing “shrink it and pink it” approach to sports products for women, and needing to cut down on the multitasking in her life, she combined her profession with her passion and founded Bia. Bia’s first product – a GPS sports watch for women, that men want too – was successfully funded on Kickstarter in July and will ship in April. You can get on the waitlist and follow Bia’s progress at www.bia-sport.com. When Bia is profitable and able to sponsor teams, Cheryl's dream is to sponsor Tahmina’s team.
Are you an athlete?