Still in the Movement: Jimmy Shea

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at TeamUSA.org:

The storyline could not have been more perfect.

Jim Shea Jr., “Jimmy,” was set to compete in the Salt Lake City Olympic Games.

He was one of the main reasons skeleton was even a sport in the Olympics – promoting it to anyone who would listen.

And his voice had meaning because it was one in tune with the Olympic Movement.

His father, Jim Shea Sr., was a 1964 Olympian in Nordic Combined and Cross Country Skiing.

And his grandfather, Jack Shea, won two gold medals in speed skating at the 1932 Winter Olympic Games.

They were both expected to watch as their son and grandson respectively tried to add another gold medal to the Shea family trophy case.

But happy endings aren’t always like you’d expect.

Jack Shea died in an automobile accident when he was hit by a drunk driver just 17 days prior to the Olympic Games and the Shea family was devastated.

Besides the emotional toll, Jimmy was fighting off a condition that left him with only 20 percent blood flow in his legs. But he leaned on his grandfather’s memory, his father’s words and his coach’s motivation to carry him through.

Jimmy did win that medal – not only for himself, but for his father and his late grandfather.

His hair stood on end at the podium and he felt exactly what his grandfather told him he would feel.

Standing on that podium, Shea knew that there were not many things more important to him and his family than the Olympic Movement and ever since he has promoted it in ways he knows his grandfather would be proud of.

Growing up in Lake Placid, New York, it wasn’t the medals that his father and grandfather had that Jimmy remembers, it’s how they talked about the Olympic Games with such reverence.

“I think I was very fortunate to grow up with the attitude my grandfather and father had towards the Olympics and it was not necessarily about winning the gold medals, it was about competing – it was about representing your country and about the Olympic ideal of bringing the world together in peaceful, friendly competition,” Jimmy said.

So, while Jimmy was a daredevil that enjoyed many of the sports in and around Lake Placid, he was never pressured to find an Olympic sport of his own to excel in. A medal was never expected of him, but an Olympic attitude was.

“The importance of that which really was taught to me at a young age – fair sportsmanship, working hard, all these things were sort of just naturally taught to me,” he said.

Click here to read the entire article.

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