Isaiah Jewett's Olympics nightmare scenario was anything but

For every sweat-soaked victory on the track at Tokyo Olympic Stadium, many hopes have been dashed in one misstep. The trips in partic...


For every sweat-soaked victory on the track at Tokyo Olympic Stadium, many hopes have been dashed in one misstep.

The trips in particular – a sprinter who miscalculated before an obstacle, a runner tangled in a tight field – drew hiccups from the few spectators allowed into the stadium.

One of the runners whose Olympic course ended face down on the track was Isaiah Jewett, a 24-year-old Californian effervescent. He won the NCAA 800-meter title in June and qualified for his first Olympics later that month setting his personal best and shocking Brazier Donavan In the process.

Jewett was in third place as he rounded the last curve of the 800m semi-final in Tokyo, positioning himself for a final sprint to advance to the next round.

“I executed my race really well and I was really happy with it,” he said.

But in this last curve, Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana fell hard. They stopped on the track as other runners ran over them.

“As soon as I fell, I was like, ‘It’s not me.’ I thought someone else had fallen, ”Jewett said.

Jewett’s experience is a nightmare for any athlete, and it’s a nightmare that Dr. Jessica Bartley, Director of Mental Health Services for the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee, encourages athletes to confront each other before their races.

“How can I celebrate it if I do, and what am I going to do if I don’t?” Bartley asks the athletes to ask themselves this question before the preliminary heats.

Jewett was feeling good after his first round. He appeared ecstatic weeks later on the phone, recounting how surreal it was to race against competitors he had only seen on TV. He had always had big dreams, he said, so his eyes were on the gold medal.

Athletes have long had to face many assumptions. Some athletes will achieve their wildest goals, while others will have a bad day on what is supposed to be their best day. Even a very, very good day can lead to overwhelming grief.

Rai Benjamin of the United States ran the race of his life – breaking the world record in the 400-meter hurdles – to finish second behind Norway’s Karsten Warholm, who also broke the world record. Benjamin was in tears after the race. Noah lyles, a famous American sprinter, won the bronze medal in the 200 meters. He too was overwhelmed and in tears as he spoke with members of the media after the race.

So how do you support athletes when some do not necessarily manage to achieve their goals? This is a question Bartley faced in September 2020 when she was hired to design a larger mental health care support system for the U.S. delegation. As more Olympians speak out about the pressure and angst that comes with performing at the highest level in their sport, more and more athletes have welcomed different kinds of support.

For the first time, all American Olympians underwent mental health screening before this year’s Games. And there was a team of mental health care providers in Tokyo tasked with responding to a crisis or trauma at all times.

But just as victory can be followed by heartache, tragedy can turn into something bigger for athletes on the track.

For Jewett, that meant learning lessons from his favorite anime characters. He spoke of persistence, heroism and the relentless determination to stand up again and again.

“I could feel myself starting to go down,” he said, thinking back to his fall on August 1, “but for some reason I looked at the other competitor and saw the defeat on his face. , and the hero that I wanted to be out. So I said, ‘Let’s get up and finish this race.’ “

When asked how he was able to get through these emotions so quickly, Jewett paused.

He was overcome with empathy for Amos, he said. “At that moment, when I saw him, and the way he looked so low, it hurt me,” Jewett said. “I didn’t want to hurt, and I didn’t want him to hurt. I wanted to do something good, to do something good.

Jewett reached out, and he and Amos helped each other run the last 150 yards together.

The memory of her fall is still sometimes a tough pill to swallow, Jewett said. But in some ways it was even better than a win. President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden called him a hero. His name is perhaps better known now than if he had been on the podium. And he has become an inspiration to athletes looking for an example of how to bounce back from a major disappointment.

“If you give all you have, you have nothing to regret,” Jewett said simply. “Yes, it might turn out differently than you expected, but that’s life.”

“At the end of the day, heroes fall all the time,” he said, “but legends always rise up. “



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Newsrust - US Top News: Isaiah Jewett's Olympics nightmare scenario was anything but
Isaiah Jewett's Olympics nightmare scenario was anything but
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