The Fierce Five: A Team of Positive Thinkers

Why the U.S. women’s gymnastics team will inspire a generation of positive thinkers.

Posted in , Aug 5, 2012

Jordyn Wieber, Gabrielle Douglas, McKayla Maroney, Alexandra Raisman, Kyla Ross

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been glued to the coverage on TV and online of the Olympics and the U.S. women’s gymnastics team in particular. I love their amazing athleticism. Their grit (McKayla Maroney vaulting—and sticking her landings!—with a broken toe). Their grace under pressure. Their inspiring and moving personal stories (Gabby Douglas leaving everyone she loved to train with a top coach 1,200 miles away from home, Kyla Ross’s extraordinary bond with her late grandmother). And of course, their positive attitudes!

Here’s why I think the Fierce Five will inspire a generation (to use the London 2012 Olympic slogan) of positive thinkers:

They understand what it means to be a team.
Gymnastics is unusual in that teammates are also rivals. In qualifications, at the same time gymnasts are competing along with their teammates to outscore other countries and make it to the team finals, they’re also competing against their teammates to make it to the individual all-around and apparatus finals. Sometimes you see girls from the same team go through a whole meet barely speaking, each focused on her own performance. Not the Americans. They were totally in this together. They cheered for each other from the sidelines, gave big heartfelt hugs at the end of routines, and huddled at tense moments to draw strength from one another. I kept seeing Aly Raisman, the oldest (!) and most experienced at 18, steadying the others with the right words at the right time. No wonder they voted her captain.

They don’t let anything get them down for long.
Heartbreak: Jordyn Wieber, reigning world champ in the all-around, dissolving into tears when she found out she hadn’t advanced to the finals even though she finished fourth in qualifications. Only the top two from each country advance, and Raisman and Douglas finished ahead of her. Redemption: Wieber delivering the rock-solid performances she’s known for in the team finals to help the US win the first team gold since 1996. Role model: Wieber tweeting...

They’re full of faith.
Gotta like how Aly Raisman honors her Jewish heritage by performing her floor exercise routine to the Hebrew folk song “Hava Nagila.” And how Gabby Douglas posts Scripture verses on Twitter, including Psalm 103:2 the morning of the biggest competition of her life—the individual all-around finals: “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”

They take joy in the moment.
Who can forget McKayla Maroney dancing off the podium in sheer delight after her jaw-dropping vault in the team finals? Or Gabby Douglas’s irrepressible smile during her floor exercise, her final routine on the way to winning the all-around gold?

Don’t forget to cheer on our favorite team of positive thinkers as they compete in the individual apparatus finals August 5, 6 and 7!

Tags: Olympics
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