Attitude for Altitude

I had the honour of speaking with former Olympian Ian Clyde yesterday for close to an hour! Before the conversation, I had no clue who he was. He is a little older than my generation and I can’t say I’m a boxing fan… The conversation though was fascinating! The man is a walking storybook!

What was amazing about this man is how he has always fought adversity and came out victorious. At a young age, he got sick. The doctors didn’t think he would ever be able to walk properly. His father taught him to push to his full potential and helped him defeat the prognostic. Weight training allowed him to developed the weak muscles and soon he aspired to become a Champion in Boxing.  He had focus and he had attitude. He told me: “You have to have attitude to get the altitude!”

Ian was thought to be the next gold medalist in his category for the 1980 Summer Olympics, but the Canadian government boycotted the games with the USA, Japan, and other countries to protest the Soviet war in Afghanistan.  His dreams were shot. The Cuban he beat in the man’s own homeland, under the amazed eyes of Fidel Castro, received the title instead.  Ian was proud of supporting his government’s decisions but he had to rethink his own future now. He decided to go Pro.

He told me the secret is to focus and visualize. What they do in sports today is amazing, he said. You have to visualize the outcome and believe in it, you have to have the attitude to gain the altitude. His enthusiasm was still fresh as he told me about how he sat at the front of a the room at a press conference to attract the attention of the best manager he could get for his next career move. And he did it!  He said he tells his daughter sometimes, focus on one thing and just go full force for it.

I quickly read the article he mentioned to me ” The Ballad of Ian Clyde”.  The author recounts all that Ian told me and more. His story is full of lessons and examples for all of us, especially teens who aren’t yet sure which direction to follow.  The dedication of this man the author calls a hero, the perseverance to fight the odds and to achieve his goals each step of the way, the drive facing adversity and the will to continue even when things seem impossible. The man IS a hero!

When I called Ian, I didn’t know what a treat the conversation would be. I was tired from a long day and I felt like only my pillow could comfort me. His stories lifted me to higher ground. I too can focus and achieve! The hard work is well worth it.


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