I haven’t met an athlete who does not want to be successful, and I am not the exception.
As a child, I had to learn many things early on because of the death of my father at a young age. My two brothers and I helped my widowed mother as we could while she worked. For a long time I saw my mother work for a minimum salary and get up early in the morning and that made me see success through work.
When my life took an unexpected turn and I began to practice Olympic wrestling, success became discipline and sacrifice to obtain good results or medals.
There is no doubt that a medal in any sport brings recognitions and benefits. Indirectly I was looking for that because the world celebrates those who win … the famous. So it was logical to measure my success only through results and medals. I thought if I could achieve the medal most coveted by every athlete, my life would be complete and full. However, after a Bible study in which I shared the pressures an athlete feels, I realized that my definition of success was incomplete.
Many questions came to mind. One of them: If success is synonymous with having a good job, winning, or being recognized, how is it possible that throughout history we have seen Olympic athletes and other celebrities take their own lives even when they have achieved so much? This is the dilemma in which I was struggling, something that did not make sense. This dilemma led me to self-evaluate and restructure my definition of success.
On many occasions our definition of success is related to what we are doing and where we are going, or in other words, “doing.” However, what would happen if instead of seeing success as “doing," we saw it as “being," or in whom we are becoming through the process of doing something. This way of seeing success helped me, because success does not become circumstantial and the way to measure it is directly related to my character and values even when I physically fail.
This definition of success can be applied to most situations, including what happened to me when I wrestled in the Olympic Games in Rio 2016. Many who were there and the millions of people that saw can recall what happened when I wrestled with the Uzbek. I am aware, like many others, that what happened with the referees was an injustice and a difficult moment for me at that time. However, beyond that difficult situation, what struck me the most was how the people of Puerto Rico "became" an empathetic country in the midst of the highs and lows of their athletes.
When the love and support is not circumstantial, that to me is a true reflection of success.