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Maya Ana Callender Headshot

What Four Years Can Do

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For the past two weeks, my go-to sports have consisted of swimming, diving, women's gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball and decathlon. The first night, when I watched Ryan Lochte beat Michael Phelps in the 400m, I knew the 2012 Games were going to be something to watch. Not only did I get to witness "The Most Decorated Olympian" hang up his goggles, but I also got to see the first African-American gymnast win the women's all-around. I wanted to cry with Lolo Jones when she came in fourth, hug Jordyn Wieber when she lost, scream with Carmelita Jeter when her and her team broke the world record and I wanted to stand on the gold medal stand with Team USA basketball receiving their medals.

When I saw Gabby Douglas receive her gold medal in the all-around, I thought that moment was so cool. Not only we are close in age and gender, but we are the same race. That night, she wrote in the history books for African-Americans and I couldn't be prouder. It gave me a bit more confidence going into these next four years of college determined to get my work done so I can also write my own history in the books. And with the career I want, I'll have no problem doing that!

Swimmer Michael Phelps said, "Anything is possible. There was nothing that was gonna stand in my way of being the first Michael Phelps." It was clear that after his amazing gold medal run in 2008, Phelps lost his passion for swimming and it took him a while to find it again. He didn't even start out this Olympics well. But he came back stronger and more focused and he couldn't be happier with his performance. It was also fun cheering for swimmer Ryan Lochte. I loved his confidence. I loved his vision when he told NBC Olympics about his perfect race. It made me imagine what my perfect race would be -- not in a pool or competition, but still my race.

I also loved watching the friendship between Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh-Jennings in beach volleyball. This was their third and final Olympics together and they stuck together until the very end to get their third gold medal. They showed people what hard work and friendship meant in the games. They always had each other's back and you could tell how determined they were these last four years to repeat in this Olympic event.

Four years is definitely a long time. If you think about it, you weren't the same person you were four years ago. For example, I am stronger physically and mentally, and I have new friends and goals, and a new attitude. It's all for the best and I probably wouldn't change anything. And I bet for all the athletes and non-athletes out there, they are going to be working hard for these next few years so they will be ready for their games.