My racing season has come to an end on a high note. I finished 12th (out of 35 qualified women in my category) at the 2016 ITU long course World Championships in Oklahoma City.
I am not completely satisfied but reflecting back over the years, and seeing all the difficulties I had to overcome in order to get where I am at, I can say I am happy to close up the season and plan for the future.
Let me tell you a little story to give you a perspective.
When I was in elementary school, back in the early '90s in Greece, there was a two-day camp to select "talented" kids for the newly formed track and field team of the city. I was very keen and active at the time and I wanted with all of my heart to be in that team. I did my very best and tried with all the power of my soul to perform in the tests. But, I did not make the cut-offs and I did not get selected. I was told I was not good enough.
When I moved on to high-school, I was a very good student, but I was not good enough. My parents believed that all I was good at was riding my bike and nothing else. They believed I was not exceptional in sciences, I was not good at maths.
When I entered the University and tried to major in Maths, my parents believed I wouldn't finish the program. I was not good enough.
While in college, I joined a cycling club and started training more systematically. I raced all National and some International events (road and track) for four years. My coaches thought I was ok but not good enough to make the National team. I had asthma, I was anemic. I do not know what "talent" and what "good enough" really means.
But I can tell you this: I never stopped trying.
I graduated with a degree in Maths finishing 3rd in my class with honors. I got a dual scholarship from the University of Bath in England (the 3rd best UK school in engineering at the time) to get my MPhil in Applied Maths. I got a dual scholarship from Georgia Tech (5th best school in the US and top8 in the world) to get my PhD in Biology. Since then, and after only three years, I have completed ten publications in peer-reviewed journals and I have one patent. In triathlons, I finished 4th overall in the open category of the USAT collegiate Nationals in 2012, I won the 2014 and 2015 Regional Duathlon Championships, and the 2015 Regional Xterra Championships. I finished 12th at the 2016 ITU long course World Championships (my first ever attempt on a long distance).
If this is not good enough then what is?
The road was not smooth. I had to battle with family rejection both academically and in sports. I had to overcome bad relationships with mentors, coaches and professors that were solely thinking of their own success. I had to survive academic political games. I had to fight with injuries. I had to overcome a chronic, debilitating running pain in my abdominal muscles that took me nearly two years to find out what it was and almost 10 months to get it finally resolved.
And I believe I am not done yet. In fact I am just in the beginning.
And I will never stop trying. I will never give up on my dreams.
And I will never adopt the attitude of "good enough" for any of my efforts.
Let's just never reject anyone who is not "good enough"!
Let's just never settle on anything that is just "good enough"!
See you out there trying!