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Scott Hamilton: Profile of an Everyday Champion


The 2014 Sochi Olympics have not disappointed. While I have never had a personal inclination towards winter sports – the winter Olympics have always intrigued me. Whether it is the hard pounding blows of hockey or the subtle mid-air twist and turns of snowboarding’s halfpipe competition – there is something for everyone to enjoy.

There are also many leadership lessons unfolding in front of our eyes. History is being made, and champion-like efforts are the norm. No name athletes that came to the games underfunded are raising the bar of personal performance. The Olympic games are a testimony to the attitudes of  everyday champions.

I love the Olympic Games. The Olympics are an event that few can fathom, but all can enjoy, and that’s why athletes work our whole lives to put on the greatest show on Earth.- Johnny Weir

This year the family and I have been staying up a bit late to watch the ice dancing championships… Yes, I admit that I enjoy watching figure skating in the Olympic games. I marvel at the courage it takes for these young athletes to perform gymnastics on skates while dancing. That’s crazy, right?

What is your favorite Olympic Moment in Sochi?

Thinking back, I have always enjoyed watching figure skating with my family. Perhaps one of the most positive impressions on ice was courtesy of the affable Olympic Gold medal winner Scott Hamilton.

Scott’s famous ice somersault was a mans-mans move that showed great courage and athletic fortitude. I imagine this is why I am so taken by his story.

The year before the 1984 Olympics was my most intensive year of training. I thought about the Olympics daily, and I visualized them daily. I was not going to wait until the last-minute to train. Instead, I treated every practice like a competition. – Scott Hamilton

But this is not where Scott’s journey began. Like almost all everyday champions Scott’s life was hard, but his enduring spirit led him to Gold. More than just on the ice – his personal battles began with Shwachman syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by limited nutrient absorption and a shorter stature. It did not end there as he then battled testicular cancer and two brain tumors. Scott’s ability to persevere is testimony to his courage and his faith.

Rather than simply re-tell his great story I want you to hear it from his own mouth. Please take a few minutes to watch Scott tell his amazing story, and take note of the everyday champion like qualities that carry him forward in life.

As I listen to Scott recount his story of victory and defeat, I see my largest fears and greatest hopes.

I see that, at times, when answers are hard to come by it seems that we can either choose an explanation to our problems, or choose God. Overtime the answers become clear. If Scott wouldn’t have battled Shwachman syndrome, he may never have become a figure skater completing his destiny as an Olympic Champion. When times are hard, we may never figure out the whys of the moment. However, by adopting the heart attitude of an everyday champion like Scott we can turn our sorrows into dancing – Even on thin ice.

In what ways can you relate to Scott’s incredible journey?  (please share in the comment section below.)

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  1. Heather Thomas
    Heather Thomas02-19-2014

    I love the I Am Second videos but had not seen this one. I am now an even bigger fan of Scott’s because he is a big fan of Jesus Christ.

    • Mark Mathia
      Mark Mathia02-19-2014

      I am with you Heather. I enjoy the I Am Second videos as well. This one however inspired me for a host of reasons. The nurse who was brave enough to talk prayer – His wife’s courage and faith when the brain tumor was discovered – and Scott’s humble journey towards God and his heartfelt acknowledgment of the growing relationship with Jesus. It seemed very unscripted and real to me.

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