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Joey Cheek’s 5 Lessons from Winning Gold

The speedskating champion uses his skills and accomplishments on the ice to benefit others.

Joey Cheek

Through my sport, I’ve been to many countries and have realized how lucky I am to have lived the life I have had so far.

1. Focus on the process.
The results will come if you do the little things. When I skate, I have a few, small concrete things I want to work on. I don’t stress over times and placements. If I do these other things right (like hitting the weight room or the bike), I’m moving in the right direction.

2. Be prepared so when your moment comes, you can make the most of it.
After I won the World Sprint Championships, I thought, I might actually have a shot in the Olympics, and I want to make it meaningful.

So I decided that if I won, I’d donate my medal bonus to the humanitarian organization led by former speedskater Johann Olav Koss, who’s such an inspiration to me. Right to Play uses sports to promote health and development for kids in disadvantaged parts of the world.

3. It’s empowering to think of someone other than yourself.
Training is pretty self-centered: How can I make myself better? In the Olympics, I wanted to do something different, something to help people who don’t have the same opportunities I do.

I dropped by the Right to Play office before I went to the rink for the 500 meters. I’ve never been more relaxed for a race and I won by a huge margin. I think the difference was I was doing it for more than just me.

4. Keep things in perspective.
I’ve seen the world and met amazing friends through my sport. But it’s not that big a deal. I mean, I skate around the ice in tights. What is important is what I do off the ice. 

5. You don’t get anywhere completely on your own.
On the ice, I’m out there alone. But I wouldn’t have gotten to this level without my coaches, teammates and friends. My parents made big sacrifices so I could train full-time. The best way to say thanks is to help put others on a path that I’ve been blessed with.

Read Joey’s inspiring story about making the most of his gold medal win!

More stories from Winter Olympians!

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