2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Long days journey into light

Published: February 11, 2014, 8:25 pm, by Dalton Walker

By now, you know that our U.S. Figure Skating Team took an Olympic Bronze medal in the first-ever Olympic Team Skating event. You probably know that our son, Jeremy Abbott, was on that team.

To completely explain the moment you see your child walk onto the world stage and accept an Olympic medal would take someone way more adept with words. I am not sure there is an emotional compilation of adjectives I could use that would accurately describe the range of emotions we experienced over the day and night leading up to that moment. However, I will try.

(Photo by Allison Scott)

(Photo by Allison Scott)

Being ushered to the very front of a massive stage, standing before world media, then watching Team USA enter to the cheers of hundreds of thousands of assembled fans present to watch the day’s medal presentations was, well, surreal. In the parent and coach section was Julia Mancuso’s parents and grandmother; the parents of athletes receiving medals in all manner of sport, from pentathlon to ski jumping. There was the mom of the Canadian speed skater who beat out two Americans and surprised everyone but himself. She just stood there, tears streaming down her face, shaking and blowing kisses up to the sky as her son tried to find her face in the crush of people gathered below. There was the father and uncle of a Dutch speed skater who, festooned with bright orange and huge hats, bellowed cheers and songs as the young woman, fighting back tears, jumped up and down pumping her arms and clutching her medal as she spotted them.

When it was time for the Team presentation, the stage suddenly became awash with people moving out the smaller single event platforms and quickly installing the massive podiums capable of holding 12 or more athletes. It was an impressive display of choreography as the crowd – and parents – cheered them on.

Then, like the moment you dream of as an athlete’s parent: Music. Lights. Pomp and Circumstance. It was ethereal, unimaginable, yet it was actually happening. That child who you nurtured, encouraged, fought with and truly love and respect was standing in front of millions receiving an Olympic medal. It was a walk into the light that took 24 years. It is not a journey for everyone, but it is a path he chose and we went along for the ride. Oh what a ride it has been – and the journey continues.

(Photo by Allison Scott)

(Photo by Allison Scott)