Reflections on Chicago 2016

Aleksandra with Olympian Diana SimpsonAfter several exciting and fascinating days in Copenhagen with the Chicago 2016 delegation, I was dismayed along with the rest when Chicago was eliminated as a potential 2016 Olympic host city. Our flight number indicated the change in Chicago’s Olympic status. On the way to Copenhagen, it was United 2016. On the way back, the number was changed to the more ordinary 9098.

We were welcomed aboard by a handpicked United crew, representing the very best of the staff for this flight carrying Olympians, Mayor Daley and members of his office, and leaders of the business community. But what we had hoped would be a winners’ flight full of cheer turned out to be the quietest flight I’ve ever been on.

As my experience of the IOC’s decision moves past the initial shock, I’ve had time to reflect on all the great things Chicago stands for regardless of whether the Olympics are coming or not. Our city is no less dynamic, safe, future-oriented or beautiful than it was last week, last month or last year. In fact, in working toward being a host city, we have highlighted, elevated and shared all the greatest aspects of Chicago. Even today, people carry stereotypes of Chicago (like Al Capone!). Hopefully, our efforts have brought about some enhancement of this incredible city’s image throughout the country and the world.

How does it feel to be the first city to be eliminated by the IOC? Not glamorous… We have all experienced failure and loss at some points in our lives. All of the most successful people I know have had a few failures and crashes in their history before reaching exceptional heights. Is it better to try and not come out a winner, or not to try at all?

Yes, leaving Copenhagen on October 3 was quite devastating, but looked at in another way Chicago was a winner by our very presence there. Many other cities applied as Olympic hosts but didn’t make it to the top four, as Chicago did. Others considered applying but didn’t take the necessary steps, or never considered applying. I am proud of Chicago for coming as far as we did. It shows the vision, dedication and commitment of our citizens.

Thank you to everyone for their support, input, encouragement and help in the last few months as I have been involved with Chicago 2016. I hope that you, too, will have an opportunity to experience the thrill and satisfaction of being part of an outstanding endeavor. I do believe that it is better to take a risk and work hard even if you don’t achieve your goal, because only with courage and effort will dreams become realities. And if you learn and improve along the way, your efforts will not be in vain, no matter what the outcome.