What I Learned From Failing To Make The 2012 Olympic Team

Written by Rory | Mindset & Goal Setting


This post was published on April 25th 2012 after I finished 3rd in the 200 Breaststroke at South African Olympic Trials and failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympic team.

Thank you is definitely where I will start this post. The support I have received has been incredible. Not just over the past week or the past month. The support over the last 10 years has been mind blowing. The words on this page will never be enough to truly reflect the gratitude I feel. Thank you.

This journey started ten years ago. I was 16 at the time and less than a year into my competitive swimming career. Qualifying for the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, I got hooked. I knew I was going to be on a journey chasing a dream for many years to come.

That journey came to an end last week in South Africa at the 2012 Olympic Trials.

It didn’t end the way I thought it would. This wasn’t the result I had worked for.

I am heart broken and disappointed with how it all played out.

I am disappointed with the times I swam at trials and the positions I finished. I am disappointed because the hard work I put in didn’t pay off when I needed it to. My heart hurts because the sacrifices I made and the commitment I swore to did not get me to the London Olympics.

But, at the same time I can’t help but feel content.

I did everything I could. And that alone is good enough for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big fan of losing. You can’t be a competitive athlete if you’re ok with losing. Yet the cliche that titled my first ever blog post years ago holds true; “Life is about the journey, enjoy the ride”.

I am content because I know that I committed 100% to my dream. I am satisfied because I don’t regret doing or not doing anything leading up to the 2012 Olympic Trials. I am satisfied because I honestly could not have given anything more to my dream.

And I am proud of that.

Here’s What I Learned From Failing:

More than success, what matters in life is having the balls to put yourself out there. Being willing to commit 100% and taking responsibility for your life.

My greatest fear is that as I grow older, I will allow life to get in the way of my dreams. I’ll get caught up in my day to day struggles and forget about what I really want to achieve.

I never want to stop dreaming big, or start thinking “practically”. I don’t want to be the guy that makes excuses for why I can’t do something or blame others for any inability.

what I learned from failing

Myself with Neil Versfeld (9th in the 200 Breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics) and Terence Parkin (2nd in the 200 Breaststroke at the 2000 Sydney Olympics)

My Olympic Dream was a big dream, but I have lived like it was a reality for the last couple of years. I am proud of that.

The journey has been one of a kind and incredibly rewarding. I’ve had the opportunity to see amazing places because of my swimming.

I have met and raced against some very cool people. I had incredible doctors, surgeons, therapists and trainers help me through my injuries.

I worked with inspiring and knowledgable coaches. And I’ve seen and felt support from friends that gave me goosebumps.

I received emotional and financial help from a family that loves me unconditionally. And have shared most of the journey with an incredible woman who stood by me through it all.

I may not have made the Olympic cut but I wouldn’t change any of my experiences for the world.

So that is what I learned from failing.

Find your Olympic Dream my friends and follow it like there is no tomorrow.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” – Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President 1896 – 1925.