Over 40 years of competing in various sports, at times abroad and against top athletes I’ve learned how to lose and occasionally win. The win/lose count isn’t why I enjoy competition. (Even though it is better to win) I enjoy the people I met and folks with whom I get to train. Along the way, I’ve met some very interesting people.
A friend of mine recently posted, on Facebook, “0 and 5”. He was referring to zero wins in 5 World Championship attempts. These have been in triathlon. He’s good, and is ranked number 1 in his class (which means he’s really good). In August he completed the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, held in Austria, in 5 hours and 8 minutes. That is, he swam 1.9 km in 31 minutes, cycled 56 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes, and ran a half marathon in 1 hour and 45 minutes. The extra 2 minutes spent were burnt during the transition. But, as fast as that was, it wasn’t fast enough for the win – this time. This was not his fasted time for the distance raced.
I met Dana while doing a swim training session at the YMCA in Easton, MD. He was in the lane next to me. I was carrying on a one sided conversation with him. I was talking and noticed he was so seriously into his swim training that he didn’t talk. I’ll admit, I was thinking, this guy might be a bit of a jerk not even bothering to acknowledge me.
Honestly, if I was bothering him or breaking his concentration I would understand if he simply explained that he couldn’t talk while training. That, however, wasn’t this issue. The fact of the matter is that Dana is deaf.
When he did finally see me trying to communicate Dana let me know he was deaf. Over time I learned he was a college decathlete and currently works as a teacher in Maryland, where his students have excelled.
What Dana has, aside from a 0-5 record for World Championships is an athletic drive that is incredible. It is that drive that is shared by athletes all over the globe. Even though Dana’s deaf – I often forget he is – it is difficult to image he can’t hear.
Dana is a tremendous athlete and a big hearted man. What he provides as a teacher is exhibited by the excellence in achievement by his students. He’s one of those people that inspire as well as teach. A true champion his every sense of the word.
Hopefully, next year he’ll go 1-6 at a World Championship.