Fierce by Aly Raisman

Fierce by Aly Raisman

Author:Aly Raisman
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published: 2017-11-14T05:00:00+00:00

CHAPTER 16

A GOLD OF MY OWN

London, United Kingdom

August 2012

Our days of introducing ourselves to people in the cafeteria were over: After we won the team gold, everyone seemed to know who we were. Athletes from around the world started coming up to us, offering congratulations and asking to take photos. I became obsessed with trading pins; every athlete got a number of distinct pins for their country and sport, and it became a game to trade them with new people. It was such a great way to meet people, and to learn about other cultures.

Despite the disappointing all-around finish, I reminded myself that I had two more chances to win an individual Olympic medal. Beam and floor had been my best events since I began competing elite, but in the workouts before the competition, I was starting to get tired. Our hours were divided between sweating in the training gym and napping in the townhouse.

Survival of the fittest, Mihai had once said. He was right: By the time event finals came around, the physical and emotional toll of the Games has begun to take hold. With so many competitions in a row, it is very hard to recover. Luckily, I had multiple days between the all-around final and my next event.

Mihai and Martha were working to help me lift my spirits and regain my typical confidence before competition. All three of us had the same lucky number, seven, so they made sure to remind me that it was a great sign that the floor and beam finals were both slated for August 7. I smiled, thinking that they had to be right.

Meanwhile, Kathy Kelly told my parents that if they found coins around London, it would be good luck for me medaling. She said to be sure that they found a gold one for floor. My parents began their task of looking for coins! Sure enough, they found a gold and a bronze on the streets of London. They didn’t tell me this story until after the competition, and we still have those good luck coins today.

On August 7, I woke up at six in the morning without an alarm. I took a deep breath and smiled. Today was going to be my day.

Starting order for event finals is chosen by random draw, and I had drawn the eighth and last spot to compete on beam. The difficulty was mostly mental: I had to stay warm and wait my turn while everyone else performed their routine.

Since the long wait and seeing my competitors perform had put so much pressure on me during the all-around, Mihai and Martha decided that I should spend the waiting time in the warm-up gym, practicing my routine. The event finals require a different type of mental toughness—you have to trust yourself more than ever, because there’s no thirty-second warm-up on the competition equipment. So I focused on calming myself. By the time I stood on the podium watching Mihai set my springboard, I was feeling



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