Now, as I am on the other side of 60, participating in sports mean staying active and feeling fit. I also subscribe to the African proverb, "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."
Sports is a "useful tool" in diplomacy that helps to "engage foreign publics and connect people all over the world," Michelle Kwan, a five-time world figure-skating champion and the first public diplomacy envoy for the State Department.
Growing up in 1980s America, we were inundated with images of life on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Everyday, news reports beamed stories of soldiers patrolling the Berlin Wall and Eastern European politicians spouting rhetoric against the United States.
Always in the back of my mind were the personal and financial sacrifices my parents were making on my behalf so I knew I would have to make a decision soon enough. I ended up making an imperfect decision based on fear. I was afraid to fall.
At the recent U.S. Figure Skating Championships the crowd was treated to a preview of skaters who will contend for the Olympic team in 2014. One particular skater had the audience buzzing -- 16-year-old Ashley Cain.