Olympic Caliber: Overcoming Adversity

The search for examples of remarkable achievement and perseverance is never-ending. We find motivation in others overcoming adversity and seemingly “beating the odds,” gives us hope that we too may be able to succeed in our own endeavors. 

Enter the Olympics - a tremendous selection of stories of people powering through to victory, and, for many, not so fortunate outcomes sans gold medals; but triumph nonetheless in the pursuit. These examples from the last few days alone showcase the potential of what’s possible and the commonalities in perseverance.   

Shaun White

World wondering if he can do it. Crash in practice with 62 stitches in October, missed a few weeks of training and prior Olympics disappointing performance. Father of snowboarding and the most prolific in history. Overcame immense pressure and solidified legacy by winning gold with a memorable performance. 


Chloe Kim

Immense pressure and hype. 17-years-old. Qualified for Olympics at age 13 but opted not to attend. Won 3 gold medals at X-Games prior to these Olympics. Dad would drive her 6-hrs each way on weekends to train and changed his job.  Landed back-to-back 1080s (remarkable sequence)  to win gold and signifcantly outpace her competitors.


Red Gerard

Who? No way you can win now. Rising star in US men’s snowboard slopestyle. 17-year-old who started off with two completely terrible runs ranking near last place and only one run remaining on a following day. Woke up late, borrowed a jacket two sizes too big. On his last chance he scored an 87 to win gold. Youngest American man to win gold since 1928.


Martin Fourcade

Expected to win big but started with a major failure. First person in history to defend gold in biathlon pursuit and the most dominant mens biathlete in the last decade. Registered likely his worst performance in last 10 years on the first day, finishing 28 seconds off the lead. Accepted and admitted he was the reason he did poorly, not luck. Returned with a dominant performance and won gold convincingly. 


Joseph Nolan is a NYC-based marketing consultant and thought leader with over a decade at major brands in auto, ecommerce, lifestyle and fitness. Opinions are his own. Feedback, article ideas and business inquiries welcomed at Learn more @ / @josephjnolan.