This week we are honored to feature shot put champion Adam Nelson. With a list of athletic accomplishments that’s beyond impressive, Nelson is one of the best shot putters of our time. He has earned Olympic gold and silver medals, has won the World Championships, and has medaled in 7 different WC’s. In addition, Nelson has excelled academically, first graduating from Dartmouth College, and then earning his MBA at the University of Virginia Darden’s School of Business while training and competing at the highest level. Pretty incredible.
However, in person Adam Nelson is even more striking than his list of accolades. His passion, authenticity, and integrity are immediately apparent. It’s clear he is much more than an one-track athlete; Nelson is a loving husband and father, a coach and an entrepreneur — and someone who is genuinely committed to living and being his best. Adam Nelson has a natural and powerful ability to inspire all of us.
Gold Medal Awarded 9 Years Later. As many of you know, it wasn’t until almost a decade later that Adam Nelson was properly awarded a gold medal for his performance at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. Yuriy Bilonog of Ukraine was stripped of the gold when his reanalyzed doping sample tested positive for steroids. It’s hard to imagine how this news must have felt for Nelson at the time, especially so long after the fact. However, Adam Nelson’s immediate response to learning he would be awarded the gold indicates the type of person he is: “It’s not just a victory for me, but a victory for the system. I can’t dwell on what happened or didn’t happen eight years ago. I can only look forward to what the next phase in life brings. At least now I can do that with a gold medal.”
What are your top 3 personal accomplishments, athletically and/or otherwise? Great question. Winning medals at 7 different World Championships and the Olympic Games rank pretty high on my list of accomplishments. However, if I had to pick one or two performances, I’d say:
- Being the first World and Olympic Champion in shot put.
- Winning the 2007 World Championship silver medal while being enrolled as a full-time grad student at UVA’s Darden School of Business. That year challenged me physically and mentally; I had shoulder surgery, worked literally 80 hours per week on school, and still found a way to make the podium.
- Maintaining a drug-free career.
Interesting Life and Training Insights:
All About The Process. “I’ve never defined myself by my accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong. I love to win (and hate to lose), but I truly enjoy the training that goes into the result. So I’d rather talk about the process than the outcome.”
Desire For Balance. “I’ve always sought balance. Training and competing are important to me, but there are only so many hours you can train and compete. I’ve always looked for ways to improve in those off hours.”
Strengthen Your Mind During Injury. “Injuries are, unfortunately, part of pushing your limits. Like many other types of failures, they can completely derail you physically, mentally and emotionally. As an athlete, I learned that there’s not much you can do to accelerate the physical recovery process. Tissues and bones have predictable and well-known recovery times. However, you can influence the mental and emotional recovery time. As an athlete, I’ve become an expert at controlling or re-directing my mental and emotional response to injuries. And really, it has required finding ways to celebrate the small victories in rehab. Also, it helps to have a supportive spouse who will call me out when I start feeling sorry for myself. (smile)
Wise Advice For Those Following Passions: “There’s a small window of opportunity when you can pursue your passions blindly without concern for the outcome. Use that time to explore, but take note of the other opportunities that come along the way. It’s more than likely that one of those opportunities will provide you with a way to sustain your life’s passion. Then, pursue that opportunity with the same ambition and drive that you did originally.”
Golden Tidbit: Adam Nelson was introduced to the shot put after he was cut from his 8th grade baseball team. What a beautiful blessing in disguise. Love it!
About his Latest Project Strong@40: “Strong@40 is a passion project. I turned 40 in July, and realized that so many people out there want to continue training and competing, but may not know how to train or where to compete. Strong@40 will hopefully provide them with some answers.”
Current Athletic Goals: “I want to set a world record in the shot put for my age (40) and make the 2016 US Olympic Team.”
Special Thanks to Adam Nelson for this heartfelt interview. We love your spirit and genuine kickass-edness. We’re rooting for you & believe in you 100%. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
* Special Note for US Track and Field fans: There’s a fabulous way to connect and support your favorite US athletes in Track and Field. Check out this inspiring video about Athlete Biz by clicking here. You’ll love it! We don’t know if this concept exists elsewhere but it looks like a winning combination. #authenticitywins