I had not heard the name Penny Oleksiak before this week.  A 16-year-old swimmer from Toronto competing at the Olympics.

Her mom said in an earlier interview that Penny always goes for it right until the end of a race.  Even when she is behind.  And Penny said that no matter how she placed at the Olympics, if she tried her best, she would be happy.

Wise words from someone so young.  Then she started competing in Rio.

She won two individual and two team Olympic medals.

She also made history.  The youngest Canadian to win Olympic gold.  The first Canadian woman to win gold in the 100 metre freestyle swimming race. The first Canadian to win four medals at a single summer Olympic games.  The first Canadian to win an Olympic swimming gold since Mark Tewksbury won it 24 years ago.

And the best part?  She was in 7th place at the half way mark for her gold medal-winning race.  That is second last.  But it didn’t stop her.  Because the only person she swims against is herself.

Most people don’t end up at the Olympics.  But we can all be champions in our own lives.

Simon Sinek said, “Champions are not the ones who always win races – champions are the ones who get out there and try.  And try harder the next time.  And even harder the next time.  ‘Champion’ is a state of mind.  They are devoted.  They compete to best themselves as much if not more than they compete to best others.  Champions are not just athletes.”

You might feel like you are last in the race of life right now.  You might be doubting whether you have it in you.  But know this… you have everything you need right now to win.  Just get in the pool. And swim like no one is watching.

Congratulations Penny.  You are a golden inspiration for us all.