Skating champ Jeremy Abbott: “I would come home in tears”

U.S. figure skating champion Jeremy Abbott, with fellow skaters Meryl Davis and Gracie Gold, faced bullying for following his passions as a kid.

U.S. figure skating champion Jeremy Abbott, with fellow skaters Meryl Davis and Gracie Gold, faced bullying for following his passions as a kid. (Photo by Francesca Harvey.)

You’ve probably heard this advice: “Pursue something you are passionate about, and you will never work a day in your life.”

It’s a very true, yet rather clichéd, statement. How do you find your passion anyway? There can be a lot of things you enjoy that are no longer enjoyable once you are obligated to them. The truth? Struggles come even when you pursue what you love. However, learning to get past those struggles heightens your passion and your deepens your success.

Jeremy Abbott, the three-time U.S. champion figure skater, had a bumpy road to his life as a famous Olympian. He grew up in Aspen, Colorado, a famous but small town of predominantly hockey and Alpine skiing, where being a male figure skater was not as socially accepted. From the fourth grade up through age 15, he struggled with being bullied.

“It was hard,” he said. “I would come home in tears a lot and I got called words just because I figure skated. At the time I didn’t even know what they meant, but I knew in the manner they said them that they were derogatory and that it was meant to hurt and offend me.”

Bullying wasn’t his only road block. He was a very late bloomer and suffered from some back injuries. He didn’t make it to the top level of figure skating until he was around the age 23. At age 17, he got a stress fracture in his back that took him out of figure skating for months. These were obviously major setbacks, but he realized his potential and didn’t give up.

“There is definitely a lot that comes with that territory,” Jeremy said, “but it’s about being smart and finding ways around injuries or setbacks. Keep working toward your goals.”

Jeremy had a lot of people who criticized him for what he loved to do, but his mother always told him that success would be his best revenge, and indeed it was: In 2005, he started winning national championships. In 2008 and 2009, he become the first male to win the World Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Then, in 2010 he set a record (236.66 points) while winning his second U.S. Figure Skating championship.

So much for the critics, right?

“It only made me stronger and pushed me towards my passion,” Jeremy said. “It made me want to succeed even more.”

Jeremy has used his success to give back to both the community and the sport he is so passionate about. He participates in a lot of benefit shows for good causes, such as cancer research, and is on the board for World AIDS Day in Detroit. He also founded the Jeremy Abbott Training fund. This financially aids young boys who are interested in figure-skating training.

Even though Jeremy Abbott struggled with bullying, injuries and being a late bloomer, he kept pursuing his passion. He pushed through the tough times and found himself loving his sport even more. So if you see a road block while pursuing your dreams, don’t run away! Learn from Jeremy Abbott, and drive through it!

– Hailey Rose Gattuso, LSY! sports editor, Mount St. Mary Academy

 

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