My Toughest Competitor

The internationally known figure skater writes about the challenge of always doing your best.

BY: Peggy Fleming

Beliefnet's Winter Olympics 2002 coverage is sponsored by Guideposts, a source for true stories of hope and inspiration.

This story originally appeared in the December 1969 issue of Guideposts and is reprinted here with permission.

A crushing defeat I suffered when I was only ten years old helped send me to the Olympics. For it acquainted me with a deadly competitor--the other Peggy Fleming.

It had only been a year since Dad had taken me to a neighborhood ice rink for the first time. Up to that time, I had been roller-skating, playing baseball, and could shinny up a tree as well as any boy. But that first glide on the ice convinced me this was it.

Dad encouraged me to take skating lessons. And soon I was winning local figure-skating awards. Then came the Pacific Coast Championship in Los Angeles. Mother and Dad drove me there. And I sat in the car, a very confident young lady, glowing in the adulation of friends and newspaper clippings. I walked into the stadium expecting to add another laurel to my recent victories.

Out on the ice, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, skimming through the camel's spin, double axle, paragraph three, and all the other figures I knew so well.

But when the results were posted, I was stunned--out of 12 entrants I had finished last! On the quiet trip home I buried myself in the back seat of the car. But the lesson burned as bright as my skate blades: "You didn't skate your best!"

I knew that only one person had beaten me that day--myself, my own self-satisfaction. I've heard that we humans use only about one one-hundredth of our potential brain power. I guess you could call that microscopic traction the high-water mark of our self-satisfaction.

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