Against All Odds

“Stick to the sun, the sand and the beach
The Olympics you could never reach
Spare yourselves and take our advice
Tropical boys don’t belong on ice
And in case you don’t remember
We’re now in the month of September
How can you be ready by February
To compete in the Olympics in Calgary?”


The above excerpt from my children’s book Yes, I Can! touches on some of the daunting challenges we faced as we began our journey towards the Olympic Games in Calgary.

As I reflect, I must concede that what we set out to do was no walk in the park. The challenges indeed seemed insurmountable and I can easily see now why most people didn’t give us a snowball’s chance in hell to make it to the Games. The paths to our goals and dreams are inevitably filled with challenges and obstacles which at times seem overwhelming, even insurmountable. It is important to always remember that success is ultimately achievable despite the odds. Not only did our team beat the odds and make it to the Olympics, we ended up pushing the seventh fastest start time in the four-man event.

Here are three things that I believe significantly contributed to our success:

We created a clear mental picture of what we wanted to achieve and created a plan to achieve it. Once we had the plan we didn’t see the obstacles; only the paths that would lead to our goals. As the saying goes, “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”

We were totally committed to getting to the Olympics. Our hearts were in it and we pushed ourselves well beyond the point of no return. We knew if we played full-out we could beat the odds and so we did. Being totally committed and playing full-out is a must for anyone who wants to succeed; whether it is in sports, business or life.

Carry On
How many times have you tried to get to a certain address and when you encountered street signs which read “ONE WAY,” “ DO NOT ENTER,” or “DEAD END,” you gave up and returned home disgusted and frustrated? I am willing to bet that if you carried on, taking any alternate routes you could find, you would have ultimately arrived at your destination. Unfortunately, too many people get discouraged by the dead end signs they encounter in life and give up on their dreams. There were many times during our quest to get to the Olympics when it seemed like wehad come to the end of the road; but we carried on. In the end, the perseverance, as it usually does, paid off handsomely for us. Always remember that if there are no obstacles to overcome, it’s not a goal – it’s simply an activity. Conversely, where the potential for great achievement exists, great obstacles exist as well.

The book continues…

“On the road of life there are many twists and turns
And the sting of others who ridicule and spurn
But the success and respect that together we share
Came because we kept focused on our goals and persevered”

Keep on Pushing!


  • Devon Harris

    Devon Harris was a member of the Jamaican Bobsleigh team and competed in three Winter Olympics; he later joined the army and attended the Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. Born on Christmas Day, 1964 and raised in a violent ghetto environment in Kingston, Jamaica, the greatest gift Devon Harris ever received was the belief that a positive attitude and a never say die philosophy would carry him farther than a sense of injustice and a heart filled with anger.A graduate of the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in England, Devon received a Queen’s Commission in December 1985 and served in the officer corps of the Jamaica Defence Force until December 1992 when he retired as a Captain.At the heart of Devon’s message are the lessons he has learned of the power of persistence over all sorts of obstacles in order to live one's best life. His mission is to bring this message of how everyone can keep on pushing and working for their dreams every day of their professional as well as personal lives.Encouraged by his commanding officer, Devon tried out for and was selected to the first Jamaican bobsled team which competed in the 1988 Olympic Games in Calgary, Canada. Their exploits inspired the Disney blockbuster movie Cool Runnings. Devon also competed in and was captain of the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, France and the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.The Keep On Pushing Foundation which he founded in 2006 aims to support and enhance the education of kids in disadvantaged communities around the globe by providing practical solutions to the challenges that are preventing them from getting educated.Through the Keep on Pushing Foundation, Devon also works with Right to Play as an athlete ambassador, supporting Right to Play’s efforts in using sports and play in refugee camps around the world to enhance child development and build community capacity.As an ex-serviceman, Devon understands the commitment, sense of duty and sacrifices made by those who volunteer to serve. As a private citizen he is cognizant of the fact that the freedoms he enjoys are paid for by the courage and sacrifice of these men and women. As a result he has also devoted time to visit the troops serving in the Persian Gulf.He is the author of the motivational children’s book, Yes, I Can! and the semi-auto-biographical motivational book Keep On Pushing: Hot Lesson From Cool Runnings.

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