The Influence Game and the Olympic Trials

I’ve been watching the U.S. Track and Field Championships for the last few days (hey, I have interests outside being the Advocacy Guru). Although I’m not as big a fan as SOME people in my family, many of these competitors have been downright inspiring. In fact, they’ve taken many of the principles behind The Influence Game to a whole new level. I’ll be covering several of these examples in the next few blog posts and, of course, exercising every day. There’s nothing like freakishly fit people to motivate one to put aside the french fries and put on the running gear.

Here are the first two principles:

Really Commit to the Win: Lance Brooks lead the men’s discus final for almost the entire competition, but his chances for actually going to the Olympics were slim. That’s because he hadn’t thrown the “A standard” length. Turns out there are two criteria for getting to the games: placing top three at the trials and scoring, at some point in the season, a certain standard associated with your sport. This means that even if he won the trials, he probably wouldn’t go to London. Many of his throws came agonizingly close (211.5′ as opposed to the standard of 213′) – until the last. After a foul in his penultimate effort he threw 213′ 9″ to secure the win, make the standard and head off to London. In the face of near defeat, he committed to the win — and made it.

Take Advantage of any Opportunity You See — Even if It’s a Long Shot: 5000 meters is, in my opinion, a long way to run, especially if you’re running about 5 minute pace. For the metrically-challenged, that’s 3.1 miles at 5 minutes per mile, I, for example, “run” about 12 minute pace. I may as well be walking.

Yesterday 16 women ran this distance and ran it very bunched together for almost the entire race. Then, with three laps to go and knowing that she couldn’t win on a sprint at the end, Julia Lucas went out ahead of the crowd. She gained a significant lead. Unfortunately, by the time she got to the final 200 meters, the leaders had caught her and Lucas struggled. Yet with a still significant lead over the rest of the pack, it seemed a forgone conclusion that she would come in third and make the team– that is until Kim Conley, the runner in fourth, saw an opportunity in Lucas’ struggles. In an absolutely stunning 100 meter final sprint, Conley leaned over the line and beat Lucas by .04 seconds. Perhaps most important, she ran a 5 second personal best (an interminable period of time in the 5000 meters) to gain that elusive A standard. In that one gutsy move, Conley made the team.

Despite her loss, Lucas demonstrates another Influence Game — one that I’ll cover in the next couple days, along with some tidbits from the trials. For now, thank you for joining me in my efforts to eradicate bad influence from the world — and happy influencing!

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