Thanks for the heads up, but I will be honest with you. I actually don’t read any forums. If Jim hadn’t forwarded me the email he sent you guys, I would have never even known that anything negative had ever been said about me on your site. I felt like you were very respectful and professional toward me when we interviewed and if you feel like covering my next Ironman when there won’t be any cameras and hoopla, I’d be glad to talk with you.
I’ve been in the public eye for many years now and have learned that no matter the success or the failure, there will be people jumping on the opportunity to bash a perfect stranger. I did the best I could that day and that is all I can do. At the end of the day, the only people I am worried about impressing are God, my family, and my friends. When it’s all said and done, whether I crossed the line at 16:59:59 or at 17:03, they all still love me and that is what is truly important to me.
This year people will be negative toward me and next year those same ignorant people will do it to someone else and no one will be sitting around talking about my performance this year. The cool thing is that the people I met while I was here, amateurs and pros alike were all so nice to me and that is what I am going to take away from this experience. The people screaming for me when I crossed that line, the strangers that ran alongside me down Alii Dr. and the 2 little boys yelling that I could still do it even though time was way past the cut-off. Those are memories that will be with me the rest of my life and as I said to you during our interview, I will never feel bad or apologize for making the most of an opportunity.
I was inspired that day, by the athletes that passed by me, by a stranger that I will never see again with one leg and one arm who was still going at the energy lab even though neither of us were going to be “official” Ironmen, by the people at the aid stations who never let on that I may not even get the opportunity to cross the line, by thousands of strangers screaming as I made the turn toward the finish, and most of all by my coaches, friends, and family who let me beleive I could actually do this and were still proud when I didn’t.
I didn’t do this Ironman to prove to some stranger wrong or right, I did it to prove to myself and others that we can do anything we set our minds to. For all of the negative statements, there are positives. For all of those feeling uninspired by my performance, there are those who will be. I am proud to think that whether I am a real Ironman or not, (I will be when I cross the line under the cut-off at my next one) there may be at least one person who chooses to chase what may seem to be an impossible goal and not quit until they get to the finish line.
Thanks for letting me know, but I am not going to waste a moment of my time trying to change the opinions of others toward me. Triathlon has been a gift in my life as well as my family and we are going to do our best to promote it and all it has to offer in the best light we can for as long as we can. The athletes that are already involved in this sport should welcome all people into the tri-life whether they are fat, skinny, tall, short, fast or slow. You never know, this sport just may be a new lease on life for someone.
Not crossing the finish line under the cut-off in Kona would be far less embarrasing than knowing I turned even one person off to this amazing sport because of my attitude toward them or their appearance. As I said in one of my interviews last week. “You can only make a first impression of someone by their appearance. You can never judge their heart and mind until you give them a chance.”
I firmly beleive that all of us in this great sport should give everybody who wants to, the chance to experience their own victory in our sport.
Have a great day!
Matt Hoover (Almost an Ironman this time!)
Author: Matt Hoover’s Guide to Life, Love, and Losing Weight