Suzy Favor Hamilton speaks to HS students

Suzy Favor HamiltonFormer UW-Madison and U.S. track and field legend Suzy Favor Hamilton spoke to students at DeForest Area High School on Tuesday, February 22.

According to her website, suzyfavorhamilton.com (which was the focus of her presentation),  Suzy’s story focuses not on the predictable, “look how great I am” aspects we hear so often from professional athletes, but on the greatest disappointment of her storied athletic career. The story picks up at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where, leading the entire race and coming in as the favorite to win gold, 100 meters from the finish, Suzy realizes her dream is not going to be. Instead of facing the fact that she will have to finish without a medal, she consciously chooses to fall before the finish. It’s an easy escape from the pain. In a nutshell, Suzy succumbs to the overwhelming pressure to succeed for her family (who were dealing with the recent suicide of Suzy’s brother), her sponsors, and her country.
The next several years of Suzy’s career saw tremendous success on the track, but she was always haunted by the experience in Sydney, to the point where she became deeply depressed. Running was her drug and the only way to experience some form of normalcy in her life. In 2005, forced to retire from competition due to the many injuries which had taken their toll, Suzy found herself at her darkest point and realized she had to get help. Suzy’s message poignantly describes her journey out of the darkness and the important lessons she learned along the way. It goes beyond the public image to better understand the more human side as well as the stress and challenges of her success. The story has universal appeal to anyone who has ever struggled to find a balance between the expectation of others and the qualities of a life worth living. The final message is one of passion, hope and happiness.

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