Why I’m Proud of Olympic Speed Skater Chris Witty
By accident–actually happy circumstance–of birth, I have the incredible privilege of calling Chris Witty, Olympic Gold Medal speedskating champion, cousin. I’ve enjoyed many years of watching Chris skate, first at the outdoor cinder-sprinkled oval at Wisconsin’s State Fair Park and years later at the wonderful Pettit Center, a world-class training facility.
I watched her rumble with her brothers, jump on beds, and give as good as she got when it came to sibling squabbles. Never in a million years could I have imagined she would not only grow up to be an Olympic champion in the best sense of that expression, but that one day she would carry the flag of our proud nation into the Olympic Games. Never would I have imagined I would be in Salt Lake City as my cousin won a gold medal and set a world record.
That was a long time ago, and I remember sitting with family and friends at the Pettit Center in 2006 as Chris carried the United States flag in opening ceremonies at Turin, wondering how she must be feeling as she led her team into the Games. I know she’s excited–she said so in an email message earlier that day–and I know her heart is as full as a human heart can be. Mine is, too. With respect for her that’s impossible to adequately describe, pride in the amazing things she has accomplished in her quiet life, and deep joy in knowing that this young lady is reaping the benefits of many years of hard and sometimes lonesome work. Her determination and stamina stand as a magnificent expression of the human spirit.
Congratulations, Chris. We are all so proud of you and so grateful for what you’re teaching us. You, dear cousin, are a class act.