I’m back- Training for Rio 2016 – No Second Chances

It’s official. I’m training for the Olympics again.

Goal #1: Compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and be medal ready
Goal #2: Change the US Olympic athlete funding system
Goal #3: Stay inspired people!

Selfie to Rio- Training in Florida

For two years since I lost the Olympic Trials in 2012, I clocked out. I just wanted to disappear. I had the worst year of my competitive life in 2012.  But hell would have to freeze over before I’d let that be my last memory.  After 20 years competing I needed a real break and some fresh air, but I never forgot about how much I loved windsurfing, I just couldn’t do it anymore.  If you met me in the last 2 years, you didn’t know me.  I’m not done yet.

Goal #1
It takes a hunger to be competitive, a passion that can’t be encouraged by anyone else. While away, I did put my energies in work though, and it’s been good to me, taking me to Hong Kong last year with addias, and now in an executive role with a major nutrition company here stateside called Procera. I’ve found my strengths in change management positions. But let me tell you another reason I came back to Florida- so I could go sailing everyday. So I could train for Rio 2016. I wake up with the fire burning brightly again. It’s taken me a few months to get my heart rate back down, to put callouses on my hands and strengthen my back. But I will be ready for the national championship in Miami in January. The short term goal is to be US #1 there, win the Pan American Trials and be back on the US Sailing Team. I’m not joking.

Goal #2

Failure to act is weakness

Besides my individual goal for Rio, the nut I still have to crack is to change the funding system of the US Olympic program. You might think I’m crazy, the USOC board already looked at me crazy. But if you know me, I don’t pack my bags and head home at the first sign of resistance. I know there are millions of US athletes that don’t get a lick of support from the US Olympic program, even if the funding is at the billion dollar level. When I launched the investigation in 2012 and presented my findings to the USOC General Assembly, I discovered only 6% actually gets to athletes in direct support. I’m not going to ask you for any personal support for me in the next few years going to Rio- no I have a great job. But I’m going to invest in foundations that actually support the athletes. Stay tuned for that announcement and how to support athletes around the US with big dreams that need our help.

Do Something Greater

*Goal #3- Stay Inspired
Life isn’t always an ice cream cone. It comes with hard times, hard knocks and has beat me down. The winning has come from major losses, challenging my talents on a regular basis to consistently improve. Too often my hearts been focused on selfish matters that don’t make any difference for society. But that’s not what I wake up everyday attempting. I want to be remembered, I want to make a real difference and use my passions to encourage others to achieve more with what they got. I’m an over achiever. I’m a normal guy with a big heart that doesn’t give up. Sport has been a world connector for me, a self discovery into being a better Ben. Since I raced at the Beijing Games in ’08 those were some excruciating years for me. First a divorce, then losing the Olympic trials. Then windsurfing being kicked out of the Olympic Program by Kitesurfing.  I was at rock bottom. It was easy to look away bitter, to let the scars hold me back. But that’s not how winning is done.

In the summer of 2012, while I wanted nothing to do with the Olympics, a vote on the board of directors removed windsurfing, one in which I had abstained. After working 7 years getting athletes the first ability to vote at the board level, I saw my sport disappear and I couldn’t say anything. I saw the King of Greece argue it was the right decision to replace it with kitesurfing.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. Neither did a million other people. As a small group of us wrote speeches, challenged the vote with protests, and gathered an army of support, I found value well beyond my own interests. I saw kids like me that had their eyes set on competing at the Olympics in windsurfing. I had to fight. I was threatened, I was told I would be sued. But I won’t let anyone tell me that I can’t do the right thing. I know my efforts helped return the sport to the Olympic program- it was the first time in history that a reversal was made through the shareholders. If I don’t win a medal in Rio, I know I already won 6 for my beloved sport. But I’m not done yet- my fire is back.

Stay hungry. Live your life with passion and purpose.  I look forward to supporting the next generation of athletes-especially USA athletes. I’m home and I’m staying here this time. I love my country and how we look out for each other.
I look forward to sharing with you the progress.

Much Love,