"Out of respect for my brother I have to go after these dreams and to do all within my power to make it happen" ~ Alex Bilodeau
In 2010 Alex Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win an Olympic gold medal on home soil. On Monday he became only the second Canadian Olympian to successfully defend a gold medal. Both tremendous accomplishments. But that's not what makes his life story so compelling. We can all learn 2 very important life lessons from Alex, which also makes him an amazing role model.
The first lesson we can learn from Alex is the idea that we can all find a passion or drive to succeed. For Alex this drive comes from watching his brother Frederic who was born with cerebral palsy. The Bilodeau family was told that Frederic would not be able to walk by the age of 12, but with strong determination and hard work Frederic continues to walk at age 28. There is no better way to describe his drive to succeed than this quote he gave to the CTV the day before winning the gold medal.
"Even if it's raining outside, or minus-40, and I'm like, 'Oh my God I don't want to go train today. It wouldn't be a big difference skipping one day, but looking at my brother, to be able to give him that chance of being in my body for one day, and going to the Olympics, he would jump in my shoes and go out there and run a marathon. So I'm like 'OK, let's stick to the plan, let's go."
The love that Alex has for his brother can be summed up in the picture above and the video of him embracing his brother and pulling him over the security barrier to celebrate after winning the gold. I'm not afraid to admit it brought me to tears.
The second lesson we can learn from Alex is being gracious in victory. Since winning the Olympics in 2010 Alex has been pushed hard by fellow Canadian Mikael Kingsbury. Much of the World Cup season leading up to the Olympic Games saw Mikael better his older rival Alex. However, after winning the gold medal Alex was quick to praise Mikael and the others he trains with with this quote:
"It's a great feeling, but I need to first of all thank all my colleagues," Bilodeau said. "I was the third to go, there were two other Canadians after me, every day they push me in training and that's why I got my best skiing tonight. That's why I'm the best skier I have ever been right now and the guy that finished second, he is going to win everything after I have gone."
When I heard Alex praise his teammates shortly after winning the gold I couldn't help but think this guy is the genuine article. It wasn't a contrived speech that we often see at awards ceremonies or press conferences. This was Alex being gracious in victory and acknowledging what helped him succeed. A true role model for us all.
Did you see Alex embrace his brother and the interview he gave? I'd love to hear your thoughts about it.