24Life: What does longevity mean to you?
Noelani Rachel Min: I personally believe many people have the capacity for longevity, but few truly take hold of it. It’s easy to simply equate longevity to duration, as going through the motions, just existing, but it’s so much more than that. Longevity encompasses everything in your life that gives you purpose. Through purpose, I find endurance, perseverance, strength and hope.
Stephanie Grant: For me, longevity is more mental. My life hasn’t been the easiest growing up, and most of it was me constantly pushing myself past a lot of mental boundaries. I’ve been doing sports since I was in middle school, and there were a lot of setbacks, whether it was an injury or having people tell me I wasn’t good enough or I wouldn’t make it. However, I took all that negativity and kept pushing until I proved I was healthy enough to continue to compete or coming back in the No. 1 spot.
24Life: Many people think that all U.S. Olympic athletes begin the path to that goal as children. Has your perspective about that changed?
Fabian Griffith: There are people who work for this at a young age, but my experience [at the training camp was that] I saw people desire to be great, and that’s something they always have. They didn’t know their path, but they knew they wanted to be great.
Cassie Routsis: Growing up, the only sport on my mind was [Olympic] gymnastics. After a few years, reality set in and I realized that I was nowhere near the level I needed to be for that dream to come true. I continued to compete in gymnastics but mainly as a recreational competitive sport. … When I got to the [U.S. Olympic Training Center] and I saw athletes of all ages who were selected, it widened my viewpoint. There were athletes twice as old as me, competing for the same thing I was. … Some of those people might actually make it to the Olympic Games and be the best in the world at something they weren’t exposed to as a child.