“My mom told me that I would have to be ready because my team was going to need me. Little did I know how important that advice would be. Only two months later, I raced against the French team that was supposed to crush us and helped win the Gold medal,” Jones said.
Based on his experiences in the Olympics, Shirley talked about his views on leadership.
“You don’t have to be a CEO, CFO or a CMO to be a leader. The one character trait of being a great leader is having the ability to inspire. Even though you may not feel like you are in the position to be a leader, people are always watching. You never know who is looking up to you,” Shirley said.
Both athletes pointed out the great irony in Olympic athletics, that they train for years and all of their hard work comes down to one opportunity.
“Like Marlon said. We only have one shot. If you mess up that one shot, your dreams can be golden or crushed,” Jones said.
Despite that, Jones said, that one moment was one of the most amazing instances in his life.
“Being on the podium is an awesome feeling. For the Olympians, the national anthem is like our fight song. Most of us have been to college so we have that spirited mentality like any college fans do when they hear their own fight song,” Jones said.
Both athletes have gotten involved in programs outside of the Olympics to help others. Shirley participates in the “Deloitte Warrior Games,” which helps amputee soldiers from the U.S. Military rehabilitate and compete in sports. Jones has gotten the chance to work with “Make a Splash,” which teaches children in ethinically diverse communities how to swim.
Student feedback from the event was positive.
“It was awesome to meet some of the best athletes in the world, and it was inspiring to learn about their humble beginnings,” said Sean McMahon, a senior engineering major who attended the talk. “They represent our country very well.”
The event was sponsored by Deloitte, a sponsor of the USA Olympic and Paralympic Teams. Students and other audience members got the chance to network with Deloitte recruiters, meet the Olympians and get autographs.
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