Deloitte is a major sponsor of the US Olympic Team, and they bring Olympic athletes to college campuses to speak to students. I had the pleasure of going to their event on September 20, to see three Olympians: Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Steve Mesler, and Alana Nichols. In previous years, Deloitte brought other athletes to Duke, including speed skating champion Apolo Anton Ohno.
I knew I wanted to go to this event when I saw that Jackie Joyner-Kersee was going to be there. In case you don’t know who she is, she is a track athlete who medaled in four different Olympic Games and she won three gold medals, including two in the Heptathlon, her main event. Heptathlon is a combination of 7 different events, and is a test of overall track and field ability, where athletes compete in speed, jumping, and throwing events. Someone who wins this event is an incredible all-around athlete, and Joyner-Kersee is widely considered to be the best female ever to compete in this event. Furthermore, Sports Illustrated said she was the greatest athlete of the 20th century.
It’s not every day that you get to see individuals of this caliber, including two other Olympians, one of whom won a gold medal in bobsled, and the other being a champion Paraolympian. The event itself was very inspiring. The three athletes talked about their backgrounds and how they were able to persevere to get to the point where they could claim to be the world’s best in their event. They talked about their experiences competing at such a high level, and what it was like to have that much attention on them. They also brought their medals for everyone to see (they’re quite large).
Overall, it’s always great to meet people that you’ve known about your entire life, and I’m looking forward to seeing other speakers on campus this year. Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security and former Governor of Arizona, was on campus this year (unfortunately I was out of town for that one), and the Fuqua Distinguished Speaker Series always brings in top-level speakers, with previous guests like JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Boeing CEO Jim McNerney.