Yesterday I posted a little about meeting Jon Montgomery, the gold-medal winning skeleton athlete.As I mentioned, he spoke for a few minutes. He is available as a speaker, and based on the couple of minutes he spoke for, I’m sure he does a good job at giving motivating speeches. I recorded his speech, and have included the main part of his speech below. You can listen to it in the included player (available on the web site, not in the feed) below. I’ve also transcribed the speech as best I can.
It all began in Russell, Manitoba where I was born and raised and had the pleasure of playing hockey with an unbelievable talented group of young individuals. Growing up we had it instilled in us from an early age what it was like to be competitive and to be able to have pride of ownership and be a part of a team and something greater than yourself.
When I went to college I lost that edge, that competitive spirit because I wasn’t able to play hockey in college (we didn’t have a team in Texas or a very good one in Barrie for that matter). I was really looking for something.
When I moved to Calgary after graduation for an auctioneering job, I had an opportunity to try some of the sports you just don’t get a chance to do in Canada because the facilities don’t exist. And because of this legacy of the ’88 games and now hopefully the legacy from the 2010 games will encourage that many more people to get involved, I had a chance to try things like speed skating, and when I did a self-guided tour of COP one day, I chanced upon a skeleton race and at the time I didn’t know skeleton existed. It wasn’t even on my radar. So I saw this athlete coming out of corner 8, going down the longest straightaway in the world, going into corner 9 in Calgary going a 125 km/h my first impression was, “Oh my god this luge athlete is going down backwards, there must have been a horrible accident.” I’m never going profess to be the sharpest guy in the world , but after seeing 4 more athletes come down in the same manner, I recognized the trend, I thought to myself, “This must be something different, I’d never seen it before.” So I made it my day’s mission to find out how I could get involved in the sport and how I could try my hand at it. A week later I got to do just that, I did my first run. And I can honestly say from that day forward I was hooked. It was like a bad drug. You know, you take that first hit and there’s no looking back. And that for me was skeleton
From that point, I really wanted to find something to sink my teeth into, to call my own, and to eventually represent Canada at. And skeleton seemed like a good vehicle for me, something that A) I was absolutely enamored with because of the speed and the thrill factor, and B) because it seemed like a viable vehicle to get me to that national level. From that day forward, and especially since July 3, 2003 when Canada was awarded the host nation and city for the 2010 winter Olympics, that cemented my goals for me, and from that day forward I made it my mission to earn that privilege to represent our country at home in Canada.
Along the way my goals have evolved to wanting to be the gold medal winner and stand on top of that podium. Like skeleton racing, I was involved in other extreme-type sports or adventures growing up; skydiving and bungee jumping and bridge jumping up around the muskoka area. All these sorts of things appealed to me, but I’m not like everybody else. Some people are passionate about academics, some people are passionate about art, dance, and all these things. The one thing I would encourage you to do and the one thing I actively did was I sought out challenges, I sought out new experiences I sought out things that would scare me. I sought out things that would push the limits of my comfort zone and try to step beyond them.
Whether your interests lie in sports, or extreme sports, or academics, or arts or anything like that, I would encourage each and every one of you, and have you encourage your kids, to try to step out of your comfort zone and really push yourself. That is where you are going to find the things that really peak your interest. That is where you are going to find the things that you can be passionate about, sink your teeth into, call your own, and hopefully end up at the top. It’s not about winning, it’s about the journey and the lessons you learn along the way.