Michelle Carter visited New Dorph High School in Staten Island on November 14. And guess what? One of the teachers there, who was happily surprised on her visit, was Jeff Benjamin, our long term writer for all things running geek, from American Athletics to RunBlogRun.com. We were sure glad Jeff was there and even was able to get in a couple pictures.
"No matter what happens to you, you can overcome it." So said 2016 Olympic Shot Put Gold Medalist Michele Carter here at New Dorp High School on Staten Island this morning. Carter, whose American record throw of 67' 8 1/4" upset favorite Valerie Adams of New Zealand for the Gold in Rio, was not just talking athletics to over 1,000 students who came to see her. Carter also related to the students how, as a child, she was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD. According to High School Advisors, "They said there is no way I should have graduated high school and that college will be too hard for me to do," recounted Carter, whose appearance was sponsored by Understood.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping kids of all ages with learning disabilities. "That gave me the motivation to get better. I may not be the average person but I knew I was better than that", said Carter, whose High School Prep throw of 54' 10 3/4" still stands as the National record.
Aside from her dedication to the Sport in her early years, Carter also had to master her academic challenges as well. "Tutoring was something I relied on," she said. "My study habits offered me strategies on time management...Sometimes when you put time limits on myself to get things done I wouldn't procrastinate -I set myself up by taking advantage of everything I could."
Like other Prep athletes, Carter sacrificed lots of things to follow her dreams. " I didn't go to the prom but I went to college for free!", she said of her acceptance to the University of Texas. " I also learned to set small goals to build yourself up and then you can then reach your big goal."
For some Carter's big goals were qualifying for two Olympic teams in 2008 (where she finished in 15th place) and in 2012 (5th place). Compounding those accomplishments with a herniated disc and it looked like the end to a good career. "But I believed in myself so much because I believed I could win" which motivated her to try again in 2016. "I never gave up on myself," she said. "If you don't put the work in how do you accomplish your goals?" Her total positivity in her beliefs kept her motivated, which was also driven by a desire to prove her naysayers wrong. "There's Nothing too big that you can't conquer if you put in the work and Don't let anyone stop you. The only person who can stop you is you!" she said.
When asked by a student what her greatest fear was, it was fear of not reaching her potential. "I didn't want to look back and say "Should've, would've, could've," she said. "I believe in myself! Just Go after your dreams and work hard...It's not easy but it's not impossible"
When then asked if she had a role model which affected her Carter pointed to her dad, 1984 Olympic Silver Medalist Michael Carter. "My Dad is also a Super Bowl Champion with the San Francisco 49ers," she proudly proclaimed of her father who also set the still standing boys national prep record 81' 3 1/2", a record which has stood since 1981!
When the concluding question focused on if she experienced any regrets due to her disabilities, Carter unhesitatingly stated that she would not change a thing. "It made me unique," she said. "It would have changed who I am. My disabilities make me who I am and it makes me work harder!"
Finally, more Champion words from a Champion athlete! "We are all created for a reason!"