I have always loved watching the Olympics.  The stories of perseverance.  Dedication.  And following your dreams.

I remember Mary Lou Retton in 1984 being the first American to ever win a gold in gymnastics.

Canadian skater Joannie Rochette competing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, only a few days after she lost her mother, and earning the bronze.

Jamaican Usain Bolt in Beijing in 2008 breaking records in the 100 and 200 metre events while winning gold.

I will never forget Kerri Strug in 1996.  The powerful little American gymnast who injured her ankle on her first vault and knew that she had to stick her second vault landing for her team to win the first US team gold in gymnastics.  She stuck her landing, tears streaming down her face, and was carried off the floor by her coach to claim the gold medal.

US swimmer Michael Phelps winning eight golds in 2008 in Beijing with a career of 22 Olympic medals over four Olympics.

I have watched the clips of Nadia Comaneci, the Romanian gymnast who won three golds in Montreal in 1976 and was the first female ever to get a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event.

And I remember reading about Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, with Adolf Hitler watching.

But the story that really squeezes my heart is Derek Redmond, the British runner competing in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.  He tore his hamstring during the 400 metre semi-final and fell to the ground in pain.  But he got back up, and continued to limp forward.  Determined to cross the finish line.  And then his father jumped from the stands, waved off security, and helped his son finish what he started.  I don’t know if anyone remembers who won that race.  But they all remember Derek.

All these athletes started with a dream.  An idea that they could reach the highest mountain peak. They had setbacks.  Injuries.  Lack of funding to train.  Tragedies.  But what sets them apart is the fact that they believed in themselves and they never, ever gave up.

Do you believe that you can do anything?  Because you can.  But a dream is just a hope without a plan.  Write down your big, Olympic-sized goal.  And start taking one small step towards it today.