Honestly, it was hard to watch John Orozco’s face Wednesday night for the second time in his Olympic trials. He looked like he was almost having panic attacks. I thought he might vomit after he fell apart on the Pommel Horse again. My heart ached for the guy. I wanted to grab him and say, “Hey, get a grip on who you are–you are a champion, a fighter, a hard worker who has sacrificed much. You are still amazing.” I ached for his mom and dad who sacrificed much and had to watch his defeat and the devastation on his sweet face.
And even though Orozco couldn’t pull it together for the all arounds, his story is one of overcoming. A product of the Bronx, teased for his shyness and choosing gymnastics, John was bullied. But he found his place in the gym, an unlikely sport for someone from his neighborhood. And his countenance is one of humility and kindness, not anger and embitterment.
There is much to love about this remarkable young man. He beat the odds to even get to the Olympics. He followed his passion and didn’t conform even when he was mercilessly teased. He didn’t give us a bunch of bravado about how great he is. Instead, he talked about wanting to help his family and give back-a refreshing change from the usual egotistical athlete who trash talks his opponents and constantly reminds us of how special he is.
Maybe the lesson here is more about the journey to the top rather than being the winner. Maybe young kids could see a role model whose goal was to lift his family out of poverty instead of becoming famous, garnering bling and driving a big car for the ladies. Maybe it is more about following your dreams and passion regardless of the naysayers.
Dust off your feet John Orozco, chalk it up to a bad few days and move forward. Hold your head high and be proud of what you have accomplished through the years.
At 19, your future is bright.