James Hill for the New York Times
The Power of the Team
Maya DiRado, US 2016 Olympic Gold Medal winner for the 200m Backstroke
Q: “When you looked up at the board, what did you expect to see?”
Maya: “I don’t know. I could tell I was in the race at the end. And I was just trying so hard to get my tempo over and I hit the wall. And I can’t believe that just happened!
Q: “Four swims, four medals and an individual gold*. How you put this Olympic Games into context for you?”
Maya: “I don’t think I can. I wanted to medal in all three of my events. And I got put on a relay team and got Gold! And I just won an event. And I don’t even know what to say, but –
My team believed in me SO MUCH. And I know when I left for that last race they all thought I could do it.
It was just a matter of convincing myself – and I did!”
* The 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay team went on to win gold. DiRado also placed second in the 400-meter individual medley and third in the 200-meter individual medley.
Maya’s team did for her what she did for another teammate. Gave support.
“The final was missing the world-record holder and defending champion, Missy Franklin, who did not advance past the semifinals.
DiRado was in Franklin’s semifinal heat on Thursday, and when she saw the times on the scoreboard, she swam over to a tearful Franklin and consoled her. DiRado said she had told Franklin that she was an amazing teammate and that the United States team loved her no less because she failed to make the final.
The gesture meant the world to Franklin, who choked up as she said she would be rooting hard for her in the final. “For her to support me in the way she has is so incredible,” Franklin said. (New York Times, by Karen Krouse, August 12, 2016)”
US swimmer, Connor Jaeger, won the Silver medal in the 1500 Freestyle final.
“I just went in this race saying crazier things have happened than medaling in this race”, Jaeger told NBC. “I really couldn’t have looked for a better source of inspiration than my teammates this whole week.”
Michael Phelps, US 2016 Olympic Swim Team Captain, to Bob Costas in an interview:
“We were at a team meeting (at training camp). Every once in awhile you hear negative comments-somebody complaining about this or that. I remember talking to them – ‘Guys, you know we’re ready to go into the Olympics-this is what we have to do – If there’s a negative comment, keep it to yourself. Because the more positiveness we have as a team, the better off we’re going to be. And as soon as I said that, we all became closer. And we started really to get going. Then we came here (to Rio) and the ball started rolling on Day 1-and we just continued.”
As leaders, how we act, what we do, what we say to form team has everything to do with our success. When the team supports each other, the great work becomes self-sustaining and self-enabling. It just doesn’t get better than that.